The winter holiday times, generally from Thanksgiving through the new year, can trigger very serious feelings of loss. In a recent Huffington Post blog, several experts discuss some new statistics related to feelings of grief often re-experienced by clients during this time of year, which many mental health practitioners already know all too well.
As a therapist who has helped clients through more recent losses as well as the sense of retraumatization many go through during the holidays, I have made a list of four tips that can help. They work for either grief reignited over the holidays as well as current losses.
Tip number one: reach out to friends and family who have experienced similar loss. Whether it's a girlfriend who also went through a bad breakup recently or a family member who remembers a death that you're mentally revisiting, having someone around who can empathize in a real-world way helps fight the feelings of loneliness that often accompany grief.
Tip number two: participate in activities that remind you of positive experiences related to the subject of your loss. This helps you focus more on the good things that this person (or people) brought into your life, especially the positive things that you still have in your life overall. All too often, especially with the loss feelings associated with a breakup, people tend to focus on the bad things in the relationship. However, this can feel disingenuous, as every relationship had some positive aspects that you can still appreciate, without ruminating about all of the resulting negative feelings, which doesn't do you any good at all.
Tip number three: make a list of distracting and awesome activities for home, work, and while out and about. When you feel overwhelmed by feelings of loss, it can be hard to think of other things to do to distract yourself. So make a list with things that are doable while by yourself at home, at work, or in public. They can be as in-depth as making a DIY art piece from Pinterest or drawing yourself a hot bath with the works (candles, a bath bomb, and a good book or trashy mag) or as simple as focusing your attention on the sights, smells, and sounds around you or watching your go-to romcom on Netflix.
Tip number four: seek out the help of a professional. Sometimes, it takes a little extra guidance, especially during this time of year, to implement even the most basic get-better tactics. While there are many online guides out there (including this one!) that can certainly help with less intense feelings of grief, the more intense they get, the more it pays to go see someone to help you sort them out.
MyTherapist New York works with people with many different types of grief and loss feelings, from losing a pet recently to grieving a loved one who passed many years ago. We also work with all other types of concerns that seem to surface over the holidays, from relationship concerns to anxiety and depression. You can get in touch with us and set up an appointment as soon as this week.