Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: Holiday Escapes Without Travel

holiday escapeI was recently in a nail salon when a woman walked in and was asked by those working there what she would like to have done. Her answer was immediate – “I don’t care. I am here to escape.”

Clearly many of us were there for the same reason.  The fact is that both men and women yearn for a little escape from the many demands of the season. It is not so much that they don’t want to participate in aspects of the Holidays – be they family gatherings, religious events, gift giving or New Year’s celebrations – they just need a breather. They need some personal escapes to balance out the holiday expectations, pace and demands with self-care.

The definition of escape is to break free from what confines. What if we break free at certain times throughout the Holidays to do those things that once made us feel good?

What Does that Mean?

In times of crisis, we know that the mind and body keep score – that the smell, touch, sight or taste of different things can bring back a visceral and emotional feeling associated to a traumatic event.

It is worth reminding ourselves that we also encode positive emotional experiences in sensory ways.  Consider reaching back to remember the sights, sounds, taste and smell of something that once brought you delight, fun, peace, excitement, creative expression. Find a mini way to escape into them when you need.

In this culture where everything tends to be bigger and better – we often overlook the enormous potential of the small things – the 10 or 20 minutes in a day to escape into something positive.

Perhaps you will add to this escape list:

If you used to settle in and enjoy reading fiction during your school holidays – treat yourself to a new novel and escape into it in “reading breaks” when you have to break free.

If you loved or still love music – consider buying a new “old” CD that stirs lots of good memories. Put it in your car, your iphone or the room where you will be doing a lot of work. Escape into the memories attached to it when you can.

If you once had the time to do creative arts during the holidays or any type of art work – purchase what you need for a particular project or even a small sketch pad and escape (even for 20 minutes) to a private place, the garden, a park to feel the artist in you.

If fragrance is transformative for you, be your own Secret Santa and purchase even a small amount of a fragrance that can take you to another place – lighting candles, sitting in a room with evergreens, bath oils can also offer this escape.

If your joy has been connection with people – make a list of old friends or people that you really want to speak with and use planned and relaxed “phone breaks” as your escape.

If you are a crossword fan – don’t wait for the Sunday paper – treat yourself to a challenging book and escape whenever you can into your smart self.

If something spiritual was always a peaceful haven for you – find a time to pray, go to services, follow some devotions in a way that transforms you and belongs to you.

If you remember a time when you actually jogged in the cold weather – think of a return to the invigorating possibility even if it means with some changes – a slow jog, a short walk, a new way to walk with the dog.

My Example

The other day, I awoke from a dream in which I could find neither the book I was working on nor the gifts I had wrapped. It doesn’t take being a psychologist to realize – I needed  a break.  I looked outside and decided it was too cold. I then walked into the kitchen, looked around, looked at the “to do” list on the counter. and that was it. I began looking for my old winter running gear.

I didn’t run for long and  it wasn’t too fast – but it was an escape to a place I remembered— sunny, brisk and wonderful.

This holiday season as you try to do so much – Try to remember what once made you feel good and plan an escape!

Photo by “night three,” available under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial license.