Dealing with Thanksgiving stress during the pandemic

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Odessa, TEXAS (Big 2/Fox 24) – Thanksgiving is supposed to be about family, food, and gratitude. But sometimes the holidays can be stressful, with divisive conversations and pressure from social media to have a picture-perfect holiday.

” All of your emotions are valid, and you need to recognize that, including sadness and anger over a loved one who has passed, annoyances with family members who are critical and judgmental, budgeting fears, financial stress. And now in 2020, it’s okay just to be afraid of what the uncertainty is ahead,” says Centers Marketing & Development Director Melanie Saiz. 

When you add the pandemic into the holiday mix–it can create extra concern. 

“This year in particular, we have a surge in COVID-19 cases, it’s happening in our area. Many families are facing some difficult decisions about gathering as a family for Thanksgiving and maybe cutting back on the amount of people, or not gathering at all, which is very stressful. Also our economy has taken a hit, people have experienced layoffs and pay cuts, so there’s that financial burden that comes up for many people,” says Saiz.

 It’s a lot to deal with, but there are options to try and relieve your stress. If you spend the holiday away from relatives, you can call your loved ones or use video chats like Zoom. You can also cook food, wrap it up, and leave it on the porch at your loved one’s house. There are ways to enjoy without putting too much on yourself.

“Give yourself permission to take it back a notch this year. Try a non-traditional meal that isn’t quite as expensive. At my house, we always have people assigned to bring certain sides. If not all of those people are coming, and one person is going to be responsible for all that,  why don’t you just do steak, baked potatoes, and salad? That’s super easy. So you don’t have to do the traditional, and that way you can focus on relaxing,” says Centers Executive Director Kristi Edwards.

Edwards and Saiz say your inner peace is the most important thing to remember. If this gathering doesn’t go as planned, keep in mind that this can be a great way to plan ahead for the next gathering. 

“Thanksgiving will be a precursor to how the Christmas holidays are going to go since it’s not that many weeks out. So if there’s anything that kind of doesn’t work, or goes wrong, or Aunt Sally is particularly cranky about something, you might want to be able to adjust going into Christmas,” says Edwards.

If you need somebody to talk to, reach out to Centers. Their staff is available to help. 

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