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Avoiding the Stress of the Trifecta

It’s hard to believe that summer is over, the kids are back in school and fall is upon us. Actually it’s my favorite time of year because Halloween is approaching and shortly after that we have what is known in my business as the “Trifecta”. No, it’s not a horse race; it’s the three big holidays in a row, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

I think the name came from someone in AA or NA or some such program who realized that the family pressures of the holidays are often cause for substance abuse, spousal abuse and general family strife. It’s no wonder then that this time of year is when my business thrives. I also like the holiday season because traffic is lighter for me to drive to court and judges and prosecutors are often in a better mood during holiday time. This can mean better results for my clients.

So how do we avoid suffering from the problems of the Trifecta? First, if you’re like me, and you actually like your family, the Trifecta is a great time of year. My biggest problem is that I eat too much.

But for others the holidays are a time of drinking too much, seeing too much family, stress over money and much more. These problems often lead to an increase in DUI arrests and domestic violence during the holidays. Now I admit that I do look for the right wine to pair with turkey at Thanksgiving and for what bottle goes best with my spiral ham at Christmas. I admit that while I love my family, sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. This is why I look to the experts for help.

The American Psychological Association ( has some very helpful tips on their website which might help to manage stress during holiday time. The APA suggests deep breathing in times of stress. Breath from your diaphragm or “gut”, as breathing from your chest will not help relax you. I know that when I see my parents phone number come up on my caller ID, the first thing I do is take a few deep breaths. It helps in two ways. First, it helps me keep my cool and second, if I wait long enough the call goes to voicemail before I have a chance to answer it.

Next the APA suggests slowly repeating a “calm” word or phrase and doing this in conjunction with the deep breathing. I am reminded of a Seinfeld episode, “Serenity now”. That has actually been my calming phrase for some time and I think it works. I’m also certain that one of the reasons it works is because I believe it works and my wife and I laugh every time I say it.

Next, the APA says try using imagery to visualize a relaxing experience either from real life or your imagination. I know my clients often try and do this when they are confronted with polygraph examinations and I am informed it helps to keep the nervous responses at bay. Thus, why not try it in stressful family situations as well.

Finally, they suggest non-strenuous yoga type exercise to relax muscles and make you feel calmer. I’m not sure how practical it is to bring my yoga matte to Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws, by I might give it a try. If I excuse myself from the dining room to do a little yoga, it seems like it might be a win/win scenario: I relax with my yoga and avoid the family at the same time.

I hope some of these relaxation techniques help you or your loved ones during this year’s trifecta holiday season. If not, and you are one of the unlucky ones who succumbs to the holiday stresses and gets arrested for DUI, domestic violence or any other criminal charge, please call me for a free, confidential consultation Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or  Email me .