This Thanksgiving, Pay Special Attention to Your Mental Health

With social distancing regulations and a tense political climate, Thanksgiving may be a stressful time. (Courtesy of Facebook)

With social distancing regulations and a tense political climate, Thanksgiving may be a stressful time. (Courtesy of Facebook)

As Thanksgiving break approaches, many of us are preparing to head home for the remainder of the semester. While the idea of seeing our families is exciting, it is also a bit sad to know we will be leaving Fordham’s campus until February. Even though we’ll still be connected virtually, the remainder of the semester may feel awfully reminiscent of last March when we had to leave suddenly. Plus, it might be hard for us to imagine the upcoming holiday season in the wake of a new surge of COVID-19 cases. For many of us, this may mean not gathering with our families like we would have in the past.

With all of these changes, many of us are likely feeling stressed about the remainder of the semester, making it important that we check in with our mental health. It’s completely normal to be worried about what’s coming — especially since there’s a lot of uncertainty from week to week — but we should do what we can to ease any anxiety we might be feeling.

If you already know your family won’t be gathering together for Thanksgiving or other upcoming holidays, there are many things you can do to cope with the feelings of missing your loved ones. As sick as we all are of Zoom, arranging some sort of video chat with your relatives can help with any sadness or loneliness you might be feeling from not having the opportunity to see them in person this holiday season. Maybe you can all sit down and have dinner together virtually, or perhaps you could just call each other to catch up. Either way, even a small conversation can go a long way in helping you feel more connected to your loved ones.

If you are gathering with family, you might be nervous for a few different reasons. For example, you might not feel completely comfortable doing so in light of the pandemic, in which case I would encourage you to talk it over with your family and alter your plans. Your health and safety are of utmost importance, and it is crucial to be flexible in your plans as the situation continues to change. 

Still, you might be dreading any polarizing political talk at the dinner table, especially with the recent election. If this is something that is really stressing you out, it might be helpful to make politics an off-limits subject. Discussing this might also help you feel more prepared coming into the situation. Additionally, if this is not possible, and you know that someone will say something, try to plan how you will respond. For example, instead of participating in an argument, politely ask to change the subject. By making this plan beforehand, you will feel much more at ease because you’ve relieved some of the uncertainty and tension that often comes with political arguments.

Lastly, as cheesy as it is, thinking about what you are thankful for can really help your mental health. Take a moment to think about all the things you are grateful for and how you can make the most of the situation you’re in by focusing on the positives rather than the negatives. Something that seems so simple, maybe even childish, can really help us remind ourselves that we still have things that we can look forward to and enjoy, even if we won’t get to experience the same joys we normally do. 

Despite our Thanksgiving plans looking different, let’s make sure to recognize that different does not have to mean bad. I hope you all enjoy a delightful Thanksgiving — no matter what your plans may look like — and remember to continue checking in on your mental health as things continue to change. Stay happy and healthy, friends.