Preventing Holiday Self- Destruction: Allow Yourself to Slow Down This Holiday Season


by Dr. Kathleen Quinn

W hy do so many of us “self-destruct” during this celebratory time of year? We over do, over gorge, over commit, over indulge, over program and end up throwing ourselves overboard, mentally and physically. I have several theories about why this happens:

  • Many of us grew up in family environments that were painful, and we unconsciously reproduce the stress, struggle and trauma.
  • We have “bought into” what our culture says the annual holiday celebration should be. We embrace the hype and the build-up and we go through the motions, no matter how destructive they may be.
  • We are so overwhelmed and distracted by the pace of our lives that we have no time to pause and pay attention to what we are actually doing, to the decisions we are making and the things that we are just letting happen.

Most likely it’s a combination of these and other factors that converge and throw us off balance. Whatever the reason, I see it intensify around this time of year, not just in my patients, but also in my friends and co-workers. This is the time of year when the phone rings more frequently in my office and people are seeking treatment more than any other time of year.

I think this is partly because things we hold or suppress more easily during other times come to the surface when our lives are more rushed, demanding or intense. Years ago I hosted a television show, and one day a woman called and said she was exhausted and couldn’t complete anything she had to do – she was just overwhelmed.

As she spoke, she talked so fast that I could hardly follow her. So I asked her to slow down and tell me again. Then I said to her, “When we move so fast, we are really creating the circumstances that lead to mistakes and errors. What would happen if you slowed down and didn’t have to go back to correct what got messed up? What if things were done right the first time?” She started to laugh and admitted that she made mistakes all the time and constantly had to redo things.

Slowing down is important. For a practitioner, it is one of the rules for treating patients: Start low and go slow. In the process of slowing down, we are able to hear the voice inside telling us what we need to look at and work on.

“During this stressful, hectic time of the year, it’s the ideal time to focus on slowing down and paying attention to what we need and the things we need to work on.”

Many of the issues we are faced with in life – our health, our relationships, our work lives – they all improve when we understand what is really going on inside of us and learn to make changes that allow us to live more fully, more slowly and deliberately.

So as you focus on gift-giving this holiday season, don’t neglect yourself. Allow yourself to slow down, to focus inwardly and listen for your own inner truth and your own divine wisdom. When you do that, you will end the holiday cycle of self-destruction and reconnect with your inner balance, your innate desire for health and wellness, and your capacity for authentic joy.

Dr. Kathleen Quinn is board-certified in Integrative Healthcare, holds a doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Psychotherapy and holds master’s degrees in Women’s Health Nursing, and Guidance and Counseling. Dr. Quinn’s clinical practice is Discovery Integrative Healthcare Centers, where she offers a variety of treatment services and consults with clients’ physicians, as needed. During the holiday season, Dr. Quinn is starting several “growth groups” for people dealing with depression, cancer and family/marriage issues. For more information, visit, or call 210-727-9234.

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