The holiday season can be a tough time of year for mental health – especially if you are separated from family members and friends for the first time thanks to the COVID pandemic. Here are some tips to help deal with doing Thanksgiving alone this year.
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1. Don’t Get Caught up in Hallmark Expectations
The sepia-toned mental image have of the perfect family holiday is more often than not just that – an image. There can be so much expectation about the season being just right that it brings up all sorts of stresses. Make it right for you – you don’t have to answer to anyone else.
2. Pick up the Phone
Just because you’re doing a solo Thanksgiving thanks to Coronavirus doesn’t mean you have to be totally alone. Use Zoom or Facetime or Skype to say hi to other people. Have a virtual Thanksgiving dinner with some takeout and a whole lot fo booze if you feel like you need to get out but can’t.
3. Be Proactive
Call your friends, find your people, and create your own virtual gathering. One potluck feast and a few good friends can be much more fun than an awkward family gathering.
Remember that you are not alone in being alone during the holidays. Get together with others and have some fun.
With most people stuck at home or in front of the TV watching football and Netflix, Spending Thanksgiving alone can be a great time to explore without crowds around. Go on a hike, or go to the movies or a park. Fly a kite. Walk on the beach. Enjoy the day.
Thanksgiving is a holiday – but it’s also the start of what could be an easy four-day weekend you could use to take on one of those house projects you’ve been meaning to do. Stock up on materials early in the week – before the Black Friday shoppers buy up everything – and spend the weekend building that new bookshelf or repainting that guestroom.
6. Help others
Volunteering at a mission or soup kitchen for the homeless can help you feel connected to others, and avoid that feeling of isolation you might have missing out on a traditional Thanksgiving. It does make it a little more fulfilling if you participate in activities with this organization at other times of the year as well, but making connections can start on any day. Obviously this might be more difficult to achieve during a pandemic, so do your research on how to volunteer ASAP!
7. Reach Out
If you can’t have a Thanksgiving meal with family or loved ones during this time of the year, send them letters or e-mails or do a video call with them — in other words, reach out to them.
But make sure the calls are a nice diversion for the day, not the centerpiece of it. You should enjoy the moments of contact, not dwell on the fact that you’re not with family and friends.
8. Pamper Yourself
Trie bubble baths, ice cream, watching your favorite shows all day — or maybe a movie marathon! Play video games. Make your favorite cocktails. Forget a turkey, just eat your very absolute favorite meal if you can. It’ll be worth it.
Have you been telling yourself you’d start painting again or get back to the guitar? Now’s your chance.
If you aren’t normally artistically inclined, get an adult coloring book and box of crayons – it’s a simple place to start, and fun.
This article was updated from its original version, published November 22, 2016.