Therapist's tips for Thanksgiving in the year of COVID-19


(NEW YORK) — Thanksgiving is days away, but as COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the holiday known for bringing families together will be very different, due to pandemic restrictions.

ABC Audio caught up with Amanda Fialk, PhD, chief of clinical services at the treatment community The Dorm, to learn how to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive amid the pandemic.

“So the first thing that I always say to people is that it’s so important to really acknowledge and validate the feelings that you have, it is OK to be disappointed and to be sad and to be upset about the experiences that you’re going to be missing,” Dr. Fialk advises.  “[T]he second that we are able to…validate these feelings, they become less overwhelming and they’re less likely to blindside you.”

“The second thing that I think is super important is…to have sort of a self-care plan on a daily basis,” says Fialk. “So what is one nice thing that you can do for yourself? [F]or one person [that’s] taking a warm bath. For another person, it might be doing a kickboxing class.” 

Staying in touch is also key, Fialk recommends. “[R]ecognize that…we still can make holiday plans. No, they’re not going to look exactly the same as they may have typically looked, but we can keep traditions and connection alive in a digital world.”

Dr. Fialk adds, “Just because we were distanced from somebody geographically doesn’t mean that we need to be isolated or feeling lonely. So connect, get creative and have a holiday digital plan.”

Lastly, volunteering around the holidays is also important to feel more connected and grateful. “There are so many people right now who really are in dire need of help,” Fialk says. 

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