The Emotional Challenges of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a hard time of year for many people. As schools and workplaces shut down, many people without family or friends to join them for the holidays feel particularly lonely during this time. Others may be spending Thanksgiving with families that may contain challenging individuals with whom there may be a history of past conflicts. Many people experience spikes in their anxiety and depression symptoms during this time of year. In addition to contending with holidays, the drop in temperatures and decrease in daylight hours that fall brings can be challenging. If any of these situations describe you, in my clinical experience, you are definitely not alone. So, what can be done? First, if you are struggling with loneliness during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and you have no one with you can spend some time, I recommend finding ways to enjoy spending with yourself. This is a fantastic form of self-care. Engage in some activities that you enjoy but rarely do, particularly if they are activities that get you out of your home. Some of my favorite activities to do by myself include going for walks or hikes in a park, seeing movies, and going to restaurants. People do these things by themselves all the time, and they can be great fun when flying solo. Second, if you are visiting family with whom you have a history of conflict, I strongly recommend finding some time and space to retreat, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Take opportunities to go for walks by yourself and make sure you are mindfully checking in with yourself about your own mood. It's OK to choose to let your anger dissipate and pass; it's also OK to choose to have an argument. But whatever happens, pay attention to your emotional temperature, so that in the moment it feels like you are making a choice about the matter. For those of you with an active mindfulness practice, this is a good time to be focusing on it. For those of you who don't, why not get started? Finally, if you are someone who does experience a spike in anxiety or depression during this time of year, consider reaching out to a supportive ear, such as a friend, family member, or therapist. Talking to someone you trust about your experiences can be extremely beneficial.

These are certainly not the only ways of coping with some of the challenges presented by the holidays, but they can be a start. Interested in connecting with me about any of these types of seasonal concerns? Feel free to e-mail me at drfask@fasktherapy.com or call at 484-222-6436. I provide a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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©2018 by David Fask, Ph.D.

Happily serving clients from Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Havertown, Bala Cynwyd, Ardmore, Penn Valley, Villanova, Wynnewood, Narberth, Gladwyne, Merion Station, Broomall, Lower Merion, Wayne, Devon, Overbrook, Upper Darby, Newton Square, and Rosemont and in zip codes 19003, 19004, 19010, 19035, 19041,19066, 19072, 19085, 19096, 19087, 19046, 19083, 19082, 19008, and 19073, among others.