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How to celebrate Thanksgiving on your own and really enjoy it

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COVID-19 is going to shake up your vacation plans.

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Visit the WHO website for the most current news and information about the coronavirus pandemic.

I, like many other people this year, will not be traveling to see my family for the vacation. This is the first year of my life that I will not be visiting my family either Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Eve. And it stings. It feels weird and sad, and it hasn’t even happened yet.

The continuing corona pandemic has made luck more elusive than ever (an impressive feat in a world so many already grapple with emotional health) and the inability to see loved ones for the holidays feels like a punch in the stomach. Struggle with loneliness is never fun, and feeling lonely on vacation evokes a special kind of sadness.

However, it doesn’t have to be all bad. The following tips will still help you get the most out of the holidays. I know I will try them on the coming special days.

Make the most of technology


While a video call is not a substitute for a face-to-face meeting, it can help you feel more connected to loved ones.

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You’re probably tired of FaceTime and Summon Zoom just as much as everyone else, but video chatting really is the best outside option we have for connecting with family members over the holidays this year.

“It won’t replace in-person visits, but video or social media chats are ways to feel close to your loved ones and have real-time conversations,” said Nicole Beurkens, a licensed clinical psychologist. “Send out multiple invitations so people know where to log in, and to build the expectation so everyone knows what’s going on.”

Other tips from Beurkens:

  • Test the link ahead of time so you don’t spend a lot of time figuring out if everyone can log in when the party time arrives.
  • Find out where to strategically place a camera in your home so you can see everyone and the lighting is appropriate.
  • Schedule micro video calls with individual family members so you ‘see’ each other during the holidays.
  • Consider ordering a Grandpad for seniors in your family who need an easy way to connect.

Create a new personal holiday tradition

playing a ukulele at home during the holidays

Do things that make you happy on the big day.

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“If you only spend the holiday physically, take this opportunity to create a new holiday tradition for yourself,” says Beurkens. For example, you can choose a new one recipe to try or make a family favorite to enjoy on the day; choose a movie to watch complete with your favorite holiday snacks; or take a walk or jog at a favorite outdoor location in your area.

It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you may find yourself coming up with a new favorite vacation activity.

Parita Shah, a Reiki master’s teacher and mindfulness expert, suggests viewing this as an opportunity rather than a setback. If you’re away from loved ones over the holidays, it could be the first time you can do things your way.

“You may want to come up with new recipes or come up with gift traditions,” she suggests. ‘At the same time honor the traditions you admire. They can help you feel connected to where you come from. ‘

Do something meaningful for others

A surefire way to feel less lonely, especially while on vacation, is to do something that brings joy to others, Beurkens says. “This could mean volunteering in some way, sending Christmas cards to a local nursing home, or delivering small gifts to a shelter for women and children,” she says. “Every time we do something positive for others, it makes us feel more joyful.”

Volunteering or making a donation while on vacation can also help you find meaning. “Helping others is a powerful way to find fulfillment and connect with those around us,” she says.

Acknowledge and accept

Shah says one of the best things you can do to feel less lonely is recognize that these holidays are different. The inability to meet with family this year is just one of the many unfortunate consequences of this COVID-19, and there is no point in increasing the tension by fighting it mentally.

“Sit down with any pressure you feel in making this season special or similar to previous ones,” she says. “The more you live up to your expectations of a normal holiday season, or feel connected to your family, the more you can be present with the blessings of the season ahead.”

If you have children

hanging out with kids at Christmas

Remember that your kids may also need help adjusting.

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If you have children who are used to big family gatherings during holidays, they may feel lonely too. The most important thing, says Beurkens, is empathy and problem solving. “It’s important to recognize how children feel and empathize with their disappointment or sadness,” she says. “Let them know you share those same feelings and understand what they are going through.”

Then you can turn on problem-solving mode by coming up with ideas for how to create a new holiday tradition at home. Have a family brainstorming evening where everyone can provide input on what they would like to do during the holidays. You can choose a family movie night, a game night, a craft marathon or a dance party – all your family can do together is fair play.

Sending gifts can also make your kids feel less lonely, just like the recipient. “Whether you’re sending a small, inexpensive gift to a child in the family, or helping your child pick something out and send it to an older relative or grandparent, picking it out with your child and building the expectation will help compensate not being together in person, ”says Beurkens.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Inexpensive Gifts such as coffee mugs and T-shirts can be personalized to make the moment even more special. Have the recipient open the gift during a video call to further enhance virtual gift giving.

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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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