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Managing Mental Health Challenges During Thanksgiving in the Era of COVID

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

Thanksgiving is going to look much different this year. Due to COVID-19, large friends and family parties are being reduced to smaller get-togethers. Smaller gatherings mean more one on one time with loved ones that you’re probably already spending a majority of your time with.

This year, it’s going to be extremely important to take care of your mental health. Holidays, even Thanksgiving, tend to be stressful for any number of reasons. Now we have the added stress of a global pandemic to add into the mix. Luckily, you can manage your mental health and enjoy Thanksgiving gatherings, even in 2020. Here’s how.

Go in with a Plan

Surprises can be fun, but not when it comes to a holiday gathering during the pandemic. You’re going to want to be open and honest with your loved ones and make sure that specific guidelines are set in place for how certain aspects of the get together will happen. First, it’s important to identify your comfort level with different situations and determine what you are willing to be flexible about and what you aren’t willing to budge on. Talk freely with loved ones and hear what their perspectives and concerns are. Even if their views differ from yours, it is possible to come to a consensus on expectations.

Focus on How You’re Feeling

Getting together with loved ones can be fun, stressful, boring, or something in between. It’s important to check in with yourself throughout the holiday weekend. If you are in a conversation or space that doesn’t feel comfortable, then excuse yourself. There’s a lot going on in the world and your mental health deserves your focus. Need a break? Call or text a friend for a minute or two. Take some deep breaths. Go for a walk. Do what you need to in order to feel comfortable. Your loved ones will understand.

Be Understanding of Others

Everyone is handling this new way of life differently, so while it’s important to care for yourself, it’s also important to be understanding of others and what they might need to feel comfortable as well. There might be someone in the group who is uncomfortable in certain social situations that wouldn’t have bothered them in the past. If they need their space, it’s important to respect their decision. You can still enjoy each other’s company by moving a conversation outside or participating in a game from the other side of the room. Navigating these waters might feel awkward at first, but being open to understanding yourself and others is a great first step.

Stick to Your Routine

With changes in schedule and guests cramming into one place for a day or two, or even more, it’s important to keep to your routine as much as possible. Be sure to follow your same workout regimen, skincare routine, nightly reading or journaling, etc. Make sure to get enough sleep too! Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule will help you function better throughout the day, giving you a clear head which can help you handle stress and problem-solving better.

Practice Gratitude

Thanksgiving is usually a time to reflect on what you’re grateful for – so why should this year be any different? Take some time before your holiday gathering to focus on what’s going well in different areas of your life.

When the “big” things in life aren’t going as planned, it’s important to look around at the everyday things we typically take for granted. It can be anything and range from being surrounded by the ones you love to something as simple as enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning. Relishing in these small but important wins will help you keep a positive attitude.

Smaller gatherings are an opportunity to share what you’re grateful for if you’re comfortable. You can turn the evening into celebrating more than just the turkey!

Focus on What You Can Control

This Thanksgiving, it’s important to be prepared and then be present. The more prepared you are, the better equipped you will be at handling any mishaps. Before a gathering, sit down and think about what aspects of the day you can control. Remember – you can’t control how someone behaves, but you can control how you react.

Harmony Bay Wellness in Clementon, New Jersey, is here to help you manage your mental health – especially during the holidays. Our licensed therapists can help you prepare for significant events by showing you the tools that may help you when life gets stressful. We are here to help you. Contact us at 855.765.6399 today.




Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.