Local therapist offers advice for stress and loss during the holiday season

Posted at 1:01 PM, Dec 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-22 23:11:17-05

(WXYZ) — The holidays are a joyful time for many, but for some it can be tough to cope because of stress or loss.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Carrie Krawiec with Birmingham Maple Clinic says according to a recent study, 72 percent of people feel stressed at this time of year. Family issues and finances top the list.

"The sheer quantity of things that people have competing for their time, this time of year is very high... so I definitely hear a lot of people overstressed and overbooked," Krawiec said.

For starters, she says when it comes to financial struggles and gifts, set reasonable expectations.

"Really evaluating what you're goals are. What is the experience I want me and this other person to have," Krawiec said. "If it's just to feel some joy, maybe you can scale back."

The seemingly "perfect" images we see all too often on social media can also be a trigger, but Krawiec says keep this in mind:

"We see kind of the shiny image. We all kind of strive for the shiny image when we're not always really talking about the chaos and the stress and the financial obligation that goes into making those things possible. It's important to be honest with those things."

If you've just experienced a break-up or some kind of loss, Krawiec says to try and plan ahead if you're going to be at holiday gatherings.

"Make some strategies for what to do in the event they come up," she said. "Like can you have an exit strategy if you're somewhere and you feel uncomfortable, can you have an ally or a friend, someone who knows what you're going through, or just touch base with."

For some, this holiday season may be the first without a loved one because that special person has passed away.

Krawiec suggests to try and enjoy old traditions with new ones, pay attention to possible unhealthy coping techniques, seek mental health support and share memories.

"There's some research that says one of the ways we develop resilience is hearing stories from the past," she said. "Children, when they hear their family stories are better problem solvers, so talking about things is a really important part of healing and being stronger for future losses."