Canadian winters can be really difficult to get through for many people.
The days are dark, the wind hurts your face, and you’re often sloshing around in wet, cold socks. A mild version of this is called the winter blues, but a more serious version has been dubbed Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). Health professionals think that a lack of Vitamin D can be partly to blame, because of the shorter days. The general melancholy that comes with the winter season, or sometimes just from life can be a tricky topic for those experiencing it. Should you just “get over it”? When is it okay to go see a professional?
That’s a trick question, because it it is always okay to see a therapist (regardless of the season). Therapy can be incredibly helpful even if you aren’t going through what would “normally” be considered a traumatic experience. If you’re experiencing uncertainty in your career, your relationship, or even just an unsettling feeling when you wake up that you can’t quite put your finger on, a therapist can help pinpoint the source of your unhappiness to guide you towards a more fulfilling, happier life.
Many people’s first reactions to the thought of seeing a therapist is to belittle their experience – thinking of therapy as something reserved for big problems or worse, something weak minded individuals need. This perspective is outdated. You see a dentist for check-ups even though your teeth are healthy right? Why should your mind be any different. Here are 5 reasons why everyone should see a therapist.
1. They can provide an objective view of whatever you’re trying to work through: Friends and family can mean well, but they are coming to the table with their own thoughts and opinions that could influence the advice they are giving you. A therapist is approaching your issues neutrally and learns to understand your thought process in order to give advice that will truly serve you.
2. They can help dismantle a “pile-up” of stress you might not even realize you have: People going through big life changes often experience multiple stressors at once. Think of a change in career: you are learning to cooperate with new people in a new environment, as well as juggling a potentially different financial situation and maybe even a new city. Our minds have the ability to compound these problems into one big nameless issue that can be hard to dismantle overtime. Therapists are professionally trained to help you stand back from the stress to start understanding different components of it. Almost like when you go to see a massage therapist to help get knots out of your muscles, a pile up of different stressors might be causing you a lot of anxiety and mental anguish without you being able to point to one particular problem.
3. They can help you learn new coping mechanisms: Habits and coping mechanisms begin to form in early childhood and are unlikely to change after the age of 9. You might notice that weekend binge drinking habit you developed during college might be gotten more intense or turned into a daily problem as your adult problems have gotten bigger. Substance abuse is one way we cope, food is another, while others still take our our stress on those we love most. While you might not have a full blown problem with any of your own coping methods, seeing a therapist can help you see why you turn to certain strategies and to question if these really work for you or if they just snowball into more stress. If you’ve developed unhealthy ways of coping with yours stress then a therapist can help you through the difficult process of reversing hard wired habits and building new ones.
4. They can help you understand your mind: The mind is a fascinating thing, and ultimately impacts your entire experience with the world around you through the outlook you cultivate. This why it’s so beneficial (even if you aren’t going through something traumatic) to see someone trained in understanding the human mind – everyone of us will go through some stress at a point in time, and the more informed you are about how you intake and handle stress, the better equip you will be to handle it whenever it comes up.
5. It’s purely unadulterated “me” time: It can feel very indulgent or even uncomfortable to go to therapy, as many people aren’t used to having someone sit and listen to them uninterrupted for an hour. In the short run, therapy can be really relieving, and in the long run, make you feel like you have agency and control in your life.
It is never a failure or embarrassment to admit you’ve seen a therapist. There are many options for Canadians depending on your financial situation. If you’re a student, check in with your student affairs office, they most likely offer free access to therapists. If you work with an office that has benefits, check in with your insurance provider to see if therapy sessions are covered. A third option is to find providers who offer services on a sliding scale depending on your salary.
If you are experiencing a crisis, click here to find a crisis help centre nearest you.