EDITORIAL: Take time to prepare for holiday stress

Bacon-wrapped turkey and smoked turkey (inset).
Bacon-wrapped turkey and smoked turkey (inset).

This will be a Thanksgiving like no other.

Given the level of stress that normally comes with the holidays — compounded by the pressures associated with the coronavirus pandemic and the unusually divisive political atmosphere — it’s a day we should take a bit of mental time to prepare for before we dive in.

Set aside a few minutes today, first, to think about your personal safety and that of your family members.

The safest way to avoid spreading covid is staying home with the people you’re already in contact with on a daily basis.

That’s the reasoning behind Gov. Cuomo’s order to limit the size of gatherings.

As most of us know by now, this virus is very, very contagious. And despite the fake information being spread out there, everyone can catch it, and anyone of any age or health condition can get sick and die from it. Yes, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions are more vulnerable. But this is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. Take your contact with others seriously when making the decision to visit — for your own health and for theirs.

Next, take time to think about your mental health.

Holidays are traditionally a time when people can experience depression and other mental health issues.

Separation from family members, perhaps those living in nursing homes or far away, can compound those negative feelings.

Make yourself aware of the signs in yourself and others, and talk to someone about your situation. If it gets to the point where you’re experiencing a mental health crisis or having thoughts of suicide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you go to an emergency room, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness site, nami.org, for additional resources.

Think about how discussions about politics, religion and other hot-button topics can add to the stress of your holiday. If you can’t avoid these discussions, at least learn to manage them.

Psychology Today says make an effort to avoid common mistakes that can lead to conflict.

Don’t label the people with whom you disagree. Avoid name-calling or other characterizations. Stay away from sarcasm and snarkiness. Don’t take other people’s comments personally and don’t let your emotions guide you. Don’t automatically dismiss the positive point others might be making, just because you disagree with them on the whole.

Treat people with respect, allow people to disagree and put your relationship with these people above your political views.

Finally, avoid drinking too much alcohol or overeating, get some exercise and remember these are the people you love.

Take time to prepare yourself and help ensure a safe and happy holiday for all.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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