Whether it’s travel, the guests, or the menu, Thanksgiving and the holidays are just going to look and feel different this year. Our Founder and Clinical Director Matt Lundquist appeared in two recent guides for the holidays during COVID-19, providing strategies to lessen the stress and anxiety around this unique and uncertain year.
Most recently, Matt offers several ways to make this Thanksgiving less overwhelming in Food52’s “From Shopping to Prepping, 5 Ways to De-stress Thanksgiving.” For instance, many families will replace being able to gather in person with calls over video chat. Matt suggests that families who are preparing to host Zoom or FaceTime Thanksgivings should stick to a timeframe and manage expectations. He explains, “Just setting up the tablet and expecting organic conversations to follow likely isn’t going to work and may leave everyone feeling awkward and disappointed.”
Of course, the holidays can be challenging even in a non-pandemic year by virtue of complications with family. However, this year raises even more questions around the holidays than usual and these can add to an already emotionally heightened time. “It’s not just social distancing and travel restrictions that are making things harder this year…We’re all in an extended, unprecedented emotional malaise,” Matt observes.
Likewise in the extensive “Your COVID-19 Holiday Travel Survival Guide,” Matt spoke to Here Magazine about assessing safety and risk during the holidays, as well as allowing for others’ differing views. Months into the pandemic, many of us have settled into our own routines. However, the holidays, Matt describes, “might be the first time that we’ve had to think outside of that typical routine.”
This means that it’s necessary to both set boundaries in regards to safety and risk with travel and family gatherings, as well as communicate those to a partner, parents, siblings, extended family, and friends. Matt explains, “The more explicit, the more direct, the more clear everybody involved can be, the better.” In fact, these conversations can be helpful in the long run as opportunities to learn to lead and be direct with family. “This is skill building that’s really good for individuals and families under any circumstances,” he says.
With folks who aren’t on the same page, approach the issue with curiosity rather than trying to forcefully win them over. “Your main job there is to sort of facilitate rather than advocate for a particular position,” Matt asserts. “The second job is to really lead with curiosity and say, ‘I’m wondering what everybody’s expectations are.’ … I think that there’s a kind of a kind of spirit of collaboration that comes from leading with that curiosity question.”
Ultimately, although planning for the holidays this year is stressful, Matt emphasizes, “I think if there are opportunities to be together right now, we all need to be able to make the most of them because we’re all really missing each other.”