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The hustle and bustle of the holiday season alone can bring added stress and anxiety. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions and a particularly heated election and it’s easy to see how anxiety and stress this holiday season could be at heightened levels.
“More than 80 percent of the people I see for weekly therapies have two major concerns: COVID-19 and the election results,” says Joann Wright, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist at Linden Oaks Medical Group. “Between the two there’s just a really big spike in anxiety near the holidays.”
So how can you get through the stress of figuring out how to handle family get-togethers — or deciding whether you should even get together with extended family?
Note: On Nov. 19, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on holiday gatherings and recommended limiting get-togethers to only those who live in the same household.
Dr. Wright offers a few tips:
“Asserting yourself can be difficult, but not asserting yourself in these times can be dangerous,” says Dr. Wright.
If you’re hosting your in-laws or a close family friend, let them know in advance that you’ll be following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on social distancing and face coverings. Consider phrasing such as “I really look forward to spending time with you. To protect your health and mine, I’m asking everyone to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.”
If you’ve been invited to a gathering that makes you uncomfortable (perhaps they will not be following CDC guidelines or it is a larger gathering), Dr. Wright suggests politely letting your host know you cannot attend or that you’ll be dropping by to say hello but will remain outdoors.
In some cases, holiday stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. Linden Oaks Behavioral Health has therapists who can help. To make an appointment, call 630-647-8000.
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