Best Health

THE THERAPIST SAYS…

- Kendra Simpson is a therapist at Talkspace, a licensed clinical social worker and an independen­t substancea­buse counsellor.

DURING THE HOLIDAYS, STRESSORS TEND TO

pile up. The season brings busy schedules, awkward social engagement­s, financial strain, family conflicts and grief for those who’ve lost loved ones. No matter what the source of your stress, talking to a profession­al can help.

I find that people often have high expectatio­ns of what the season is supposed to look like, which can set them up for disappoint­ment when things don’t go as planned. We tend to find ways to cope with our problems (some people may withdraw from social situations, while others will turn to alcohol or food), but talk therapy offers a positive coping mechanism that allows you to vent or even learn new strategies to deal with stressors.

Digital-based therapy systems, such as Talkspace, are a great way to get started because the counsellin­g they offer is inexpensiv­e (starting at $32 USD a week) and you can reach out via text, audio message or video call anytime, anywhere. I’ve received calls from people who are at a party and sneak into the bathroom for a quick therapy session because they just need to talk.

There are many ways that people benefit from therapy. Most people report a sense of relief from just getting out what they’re feeling, while others are interested in the tools we recommend, like slowly counting to 10 during times of stress or doing a daily meditation. For those who prefer to text what they’re going through, the process of writing out their thoughts can be healing, like writing in a journal. They can later look back on what they wrote, appreciate how far they’ve come and learn from those thought patterns.

I practise cognitive behavioura­l therapy, which is all about shifting your thoughts. Your thoughts directly inf luence how you feel and act (for example, if you think your relatives look down on you, you may feel self-conscious and be more apt to withdraw at family gatherings). It’s my job to teach you how to recognize and replace those thoughts so that you can control how you feel and begin to build more positive relationsh­ips with yourself and those around you.

It can be challengin­g to seek help from people in your life when you’re going through a hard time, especially at the busiest time of year. But therapists are always there to listen non-judgmental­ly and help you see your situation from a new perspectiv­e.

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