There are certain expectations that come with celebrating Thanksgiving, namely large gatherings of family and friends to socialize and enjoy delicious food.
Instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s health and travel restrictions, many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving differently this year – on our own or with a smaller group.
After all we’ve been through this year, these changes in how we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday could cause many of us to experience increased anxiety and depression.
It’s human to miss our family, friends, and traditions. So how can you make the best out of this situation, and lessen the impact on your mental health?
Change Your Attitude with Gratitude
You can choose to focus on what you’re missing this year – which will cause you to feel sad and deprived – or you can choose to focus on gratitude.
Even this year, when things are so different, there is still much to be grateful for. Let’s count our blessings and embrace the differences.
Choose to live in the present moment, and focus on being aware of all of your blessings, and be grateful for who and what you have right now.
Remember that – even if you aren’t in the same place – you can still celebrate together remotely. Just like any other Thanksgiving, make your plans, and set your times to connect with your loved ones.
When I first came to the USA 31 years ago to work as a nanny, I really missed my family and friends in Ireland. Being able to talk to my parents even for a few minutes was fantastic and I could only afford to do so once every few weeks.
Letters became the main way of staying in touch with my friends and siblings. I cherished the letters that came in the mail; they were physical connections to home.
Fast forward to 2020: the world is so much smaller thanks to cell phones. We can not only talk but video call for free. This is such a blessing compared to how it used to be.
Consider taking advantage of this opportunity to slow down and reach out to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. You may actually lift someone else’s spirits because you thought of them and reached out to say, “I remember you. You matter.”
If You Are Spending Thanksgiving Alone
Many people are spending the holiday alone. Some are isolating because they are at high risk for catching Covid 19, others are not in relationships, or don’t have a family.
Feeling lonely is understandable and perfectly normal. Remember these 24 hours will come to an end. As they say, “This too shall pass.”
My advice to you is to treat the day as an ordinary day off and enjoy the downtime. You may choose to facetime with friends and family to help you feel less lonely or spend your day watching shows you enjoy.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Fortunately, there are COVID-19 vaccines that look promising, and this period will eventually come to an end.
Think about all the wonderful things you will get to do when COVID-19 is behind us. I know that I’m so looking forward to flying from Orlando to Dublin to be with family.
What are you looking forward to? Allow yourself to imagine a bright future.
As always, I’m grateful for you. I wish you and yours a Thanksgiving full of blessings!
Isobel McGrath is a licensed International Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, and Certified Hypnotherapist located in St. Augustine, FL.
Isobel provides therapy, counseling, and hypnosis in person at her St. Augustine Beach office, and through Telehealth. She is dedicated to providing exceptional, collaborative care, and truly cares about her clients and their well-being.