Therapy : The Most Frequently Raised Topics Holiday Season



Therapy : The Most Frequently Raised Topics Holiday Season

The Most Frequently Raised Topics in Therapy During the Holiday Season


At any time of the year, but particularly during the hectic holiday season, there can be complications due to financial strain, grief, accepting too many invitations, and having extremely high expectations.


Therapists report that certain topics come up every year around this time of year when it comes to stressors related to the holidays.



According to Sadaf Siddiqi, a psychotherapist and mental health consultant in New York City, “it’s something that comes up in a lot of my sessions.” “It probably began two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, when the stress of the holidays begins to develop.”


People struggle with a lot of different things this time of year. (Read: If you’re not feeling festive and cheery right now, you’re not alone.) The following lists the main concerns that therapists see during the holiday season:


A Battle To Uphold One’s Own Boundaries

We have to invest a lot of time, money, and energy during the holidays. Setting limits, such as declining invitations on particular days of the week or putting a cap on the amount you will spend on presents, is one method to look after yourself.


During this time of year, Siddiqi said, a lot of her clients seek therapy with the intention of setting and upholding personal boundaries for the duration of the holidays.


According to Siddiqi, “personal boundaries are simply understanding your own needs and boundaries, such as what they are, what you want to tolerate, what you need to feel good, and what makes you not feel good.”


You might need to practice saying no to some holiday get-togethers or make self-care and rest time a priority if you want to feel your best.

Meredith Van Ness, a psychotherapist and the proprietor of Meredith Van Ness Therapy in Colorado, continued, “It’s okay to say no to events that don’t give you energy.” In fact, it’s a useful method to give your personal boundaries top priority this season.


Not feeling as though they’re meeting the expectations of themselves or of their loved ones

In addition to dealing with internal expectations that they set for themselves, many people struggle with external expectations from friends, colleagues, or family, according to Justine Grosso, a psychologist in North Carolina and New York who also offers mental health insights on her Instagram account.

People struggle internally to balance upholding others’ wishes and expectations while adhering to their own needs, Grosso said. “This internal conflict arises from cheery images depicted in media and advertisements or the unspoken rules of a family dynamic and traditions,” Grosso said.


This could take the form of “shoulds,” such as “I should be done shopping for the holidays by now” or “I should be happier to see my family members on Christmas.”


Grosso suggested practicing affirming self-talk statements such as “It makes sense that I feel anxious right now” and “Of course I would feel hurt and angry when so-and-so makes a judgmental comment” as an alternative to defaulting to “should” statements.

Furthermore, according to Grosso, it’s beneficial to approach the holidays with reasonable expectations. A “good enough” holiday will do, as it “can take overwhelm and stress out of the interactions.” A perfect day is not necessary.


A widespread desire to establish (and maintain) a specific goal by year’s end

According to Siddiqi, she helps a lot of her clients set intentions for how they want to feel after the holidays as the end of the year draws near.

According to Siddiqi, “most people prefer to feel well-rested and relaxed rather than overcommitted and burned out.”



“What you want during the holidays is a sense of renewal before the new year, like a nice way to end the year, but in reality, people end up feeling burned out by December or January 5th.”


By the end of the holiday season, the majority of people do not want to feel this way.

“You can actually get ahead of a problem before it spirals out of control if you can commit to a short check-in with yourself on a daily basis to audit how you’re doing in the moment,” the speaker advised.

You could just ask yourself, “How do I feel in this moment?” during this five-minute check-in. and “What can I do to feel better today?” said she.


This is a method to make sure you’re staying true to your intentions and to incorporate some self-care into your vacation.

Loneliness and Isolation: According to societal norms, everyone should have sizable, loving families and lively social circles. And while some do, for many others it simply isn’t the reality.


Van Ness stated that loneliness and isolation are “a big area that people will talk about in the therapy office,” adding, “I think the loneliness is that not everyone has these picture-perfect families or picture-perfect situations.”


Individuals in these circumstances might feel uncertain about their holiday plans or depressed about not having a friend group to exchange gifts with.

Over commitment Problems

While some social groups struggle with isolation and loneliness, others deal with the opposite issue: over commitment.

According to Siddiqi, this is a social boundary problem that involves how you engage and interact with people, whether they are coworkers, friends, family, or members of religious or spiritual groups that you are a part of.

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“I think it’s very hard to not get sucked into everything during the holidays, even if it means checking things on social media a lot—you’re kind of always overcommitting to everything,” Siddiqi remarked.


You haven’t had much “me” time or downtime until maybe December 26 or 27, so by the end of the year, you’re truly burned out.


Siddiqi pointed out that since you’ve been on a constant “go, go, go” for so long, it might already be too late. Before taking on too much, she advises her clients to consider their actual capacity and limit.

Issues With Relatives

Holiday get-togethers frequently entail reunions with both local and distant relatives, regardless of how well you get along with them.

“The way people interact with family members is something that comes up quite a bit,” Siddiqi stated. I frequently hear from clients who say things like, “I know I’m going to run into my aunt.


” This is a subject she always brings up. It really gets to me, especially people who recently ended a relationship, lost their job, or are going through a transition.


It’s normal for people to inquire about your life when they haven’t seen you in a while. However, those inquiries are probably unwanted if you’re going through a difficult transition.

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Furthermore, many people have strained relationships with some family members and may be forced to interact with them for the first time in years during a holiday meal.


Van Ness continued, “Or people may have a family member who makes them anxious or depressed.”

She clarified, “All past traumas can intensify [during the] holiday season.” The holidays are associated with a variety of sights, sounds, and smells, and she pointed out that these sensory experiences can trigger memories of past traumas.

Uneasy Thoughts About Being Alone

Siddiqi claimed that a lot of people struggle at this time of year, whether they have been single recently or not. “Cuffing season,” when singles get together for the winter, is in full swing, and being single during this time is more difficult.

Those who are single may have to deal with challenging inquiries about previous relationships from well-meaning parents, or they may simply be experiencing the loneliness that comes with attending the numerous social events of the season without a companion.



Grief is a topic that frequently comes up in therapy around this time of year, according to Van Ness.

“That can bring up a lot of sadness, whether it’s a recent loss or an anniversary of a loss,” Van Ness stated. Beyond a death, Van Ness added, divorce-related loss can also cause grief to surface.


This also applies to friendship changes, job losses, and pet losses.

“Any kind of loss, it just feels like there should be more joy and happiness around this time of year, so grieving just gets harder,” Van Ness remarked.


She advised asking people how they’re doing and how they’re feeling in order to comfort your grieving loved ones. Don’t assume that everyone is as excited about the holidays as you are.


There are steps you can take to take extra care of yourself if you are experiencing problems similar to these.

Let’s just say that it can be a challenging season. You are not alone if you discover that you are having difficulties. A lot of people secretly hope that the “wonderful time of the year” never ends.


“Maintain your routine or make time for self-care practices like mindfulness, exercise, adequate sleep, and nutrition,” Grosso advised in the interim.


Additionally, volunteering in your community might be a smart idea. According to Grosso, “this can promote feelings of thankfulness and altruism, which are both beneficial for mental health.”



In order to overcome feelings of isolation or melancholy following a recent breakup, Siddiqi suggested using meet-up apps or services such as Bumble BFF. If you’re not close to your biological family, you could also spend time with the family you’ve chosen, according to Grosso.


And if you discover that you’re still having trouble, you can locate a mental health professional to speak with by using databases like those at Inclusive Therapists and Psychology Today.


Van Ness stated, “As many people reach out in the new year, this is a great time to reach out to a therapist.” “Thus, it makes sense to sign up for a therapy waiting list right away.”


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