The holidays can bring many wonderful things—gatherings with family and friends, magical memories, and celebrations rich in cultural traditions. Sometimes the romanticized ideal of the holidays and the reality are stressful, triggering, lonely, and overrated.
Here are 7 Reasons Why You Should See a Therapist Over the Holidays
1. The holidays can be stressful.
There are so many stressful situations that have the potential to quickly escalate and negatively impact one’s mental health.
Children are home for the holiday break. Parenting children with problem-behavior-at-home is stressful (and so is dealing with a parent who is struggling with untreated mental-illness or substance use). There may be increased tension in your relationship(s) around the holidays. Entertaining and hosting guests can be stressful as well as holiday travel. Many people experience increased financial pressures during the holidays, including food insecurity and homelessness. Counseling can help cope with stressors by offering individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy options.
2. The holidays can trigger trauma.
The holidays often bring more exposure to trauma cues, especially when one has experienced child abuse and neglect. Certain people, smells, etc. can cue trauma and bring back reminders as if one is re-experiencing their experience. Therapy can help create safety, especially in your body, and help with grounding-techniques. Many therapists have training in specific trauma treatments such as cognitive-behavioral-therapy, cognitive-processing-therapy, prolonged-exposure, and eye-movement-desensitization-and-reprocessing.
3. Sensory-overload can be overwhelming.
If you are sensitive to sensory stimuli, the holidays are full of sensory overload. Loud spaces, flashing lights, and strong scents–added to the hustle and bustle of transitions. Therapy can help create a cope ahead plan as well as problem-solving strategies to help cope with upcoming situations.
4. Holidays can test your skills.
It can be more difficult to be patient, and kind, and set-boundaries, especially when you may encounter those who may off-handed comments about sensitive topics such as lifestyle choices, politics, religion, relationship status, gender identity, sexual orientation, weight, finances, etc. Therapy can help set boundaries, practice assertive communication, and learn skills such as emotional-regulation-distress-tolerance. Therapy provides a safe space to discuss these topics and learn new skills.
5. The holidays can be lonely.
Being disconnected from family and social support, struggling with transportation or mobility, experiencing separation or divorce, experiencing grief/ loss, and being alone over the holidays can lonely. Some struggle with boredom, scrolling and seeing others’ social media posts, or turning to alcohol or drugs as a friend. Others are especially prone to depression or suicide. Therapy can help cope with thoughts, feelings, and experiences and create a safety plan if needed. If you or a loved one are in crisis, call 988 or text SAVE to 741741.
6. The holidays can be a time to re-evaluate.
You may have more time to take a break from life and reflect on what you want for yourself. Perhaps you have more flexibility in your schedule to schedule an in-person or telehealth therapy session. If you need something to change in your life and are ready to commit to the next steps, a therapist can be a great support.
7. Maximize your health plan.
The holidays are a great time to schedule the first three sessions for the initial intake and treatment planning sessions to be ready to dive deep into therapy for the New Year. You may consider using health savings funds before the end of the year and getting started on meeting any deductibles on your insurance plan early in the New Year to maximize use. For plans that cover mental health care such as Medical Assistance (MA), now is the perfect time to use this amazing benefit.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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