SEATTLE — ‘Tis the season and for many families, Thanksgiving is the first gathering since the pandemic began.
Along with the fun, festivities, and joy the holidays bring, there’s also a lot of added stress.
Dr. Dan Rosen, chair of Bastyr University’s Counseling and Health Psychology Department, said psychologists are noticing added levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
For many, that's due to an added level to fear due to COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic.
Rosen’s advice for people suffering from a fear of catching COVID is to ask about vaccination status, or for negative COVID tests before attending.
“It’s okay to politely decline an invitation if you don’t feel comfortable,” he added.
There are also factors that impact mental health every year, like grief while celebrating the holidays maybe for the first time since losing a loved one.
His advice for people feeling down around the holidays is to reach out to others and check-in, also doing something that makes you feel grateful, like volunteering or donating to charity.
In addition, some people experience anxiety around hosting a group or attending a celebration, and being in social situations many of us have lacked for the past 18 or months.
And for those feeling a little social anxiety, Rosen said the best advice is that it’s okay, many others are probably feeling the same. He recommends welcoming guests with a hug, having a fireside chat, or inviting the neighbor you haven’t seen much recently.