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Easing holiday loneliness in a year full of the unexpected

The holidays are already a trigger for depression and anxiety, but this Thanksgiving could bring out emotions you may have never experienced.

Having high expectations during the holidays can weigh us down.

“We’d have 30 to 40 people at our home and would host. This year is different,” said Karen Jones. Her family has been through a whirlwind this year; a family member recently passed away from COVID-19.

“He leaves behind three children. The youngest is four, and he will not be having dinner with his father this year.”

Jones, her husband, and her daughter will stay home by themselves this Thanksgiving, much different than the large celebrations they’re used to.

“It is sad. 2020 is unprecedented; 2020 has taught us a lot and showed us a lot.”

If you’re like Jones, separated from your friends and family for the holidays, it can bring about feelings of anxiety and depression.

Tiffany Scott, a counselor at Elite DNA Therapy, said to try and avoid “perfectionist thinking traps.”

“If your expectations are very high and reality is down here, in this range is where frustration begins,” she said.

Jones’ advice for getting through this time is to look forward to something.

“I think we all need something to look forward to. Whether it’s a good book, just a quiet dinner with your spouse, or a bedtime story with your child, or a dream vacation, just have something to look forward to.”

One other piece of advice from Scott: If you’re alone for the holiday, try to create some structure and perhaps look to planning something for next year.

The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for combating loneliness during the holidays.

Reporter:Corey Lazar
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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