Staying mentally strong while spending the holidays alone

Health experts say it's all about the way you view your situation
Posted at 9:55 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 08:42:46-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — For many of us, this Thursday we might just be sitting down in our kitchens to Thanksgiving eat dinner alone, which just won’t feel right. But it’s important to know you can make the most out of the situation, without letting it compromise your sanity.

It’s normally around this day each year that Tyler Wofford hops on a plane from Colorado to Kansas City to spend some time with his family. But not this year.

“I am just staying home with the dog and relaxing,” Wofford said.

He had to make a judgment call.

“My mom and sister are both nurses. So they have seen way too many bad stories related to COVID,” he said.

He’s staying back, not only to give them some rest but also to keep himself out of harm’s way.

“I have Type I diabetes,” he said. “My sister’s in-laws are both high risk as well. So that’s a factor in it.”

But for him and countless others this year, staying home alone is hard, especially with everything else we’ve been seeing this year.

Licensed professional counselor Sara Mann says the situation we’re facing right now is ripe to bring out mental stress.

“A lot of anxiety, a lot of depression,” Mann said. “It comes from thinking about what was past. And thinking about what we’ve lost. And obviously, there’s a lot of loss, a lot of loss in traditions and family time right now.”

But she says that can all change if you just look at things from a new angle.

“Instead of thinking about all the things we’re not going to do, let’s think about what we can do,” she said.

Of course, there are ways to still see your family.

“Even connecting via video, via phone,” she said.

And since you won’t be spending 100% of your holiday with your family virtually, take advantage of the extra free time you weren’t expecting to have.

“Maybe it’s... spend the day creating art,” Mann said. “Maybe it’s spend the day watching all the Start Wars movies. Maybe it is something like exploring a new hike in town.”

It’s all about viewing things from a different perspective. For Wofford, it means realizing that gathering while at high-risk for COVID could’ve brought even more anxiety.

“My mom was gonna come here, but then about two weeks ago we decided... let’s not do that either,” Wofford said. “I think we would all be at more of peace of mind honestly staying away from each other than we would be around each other.”