TAMPA, Fla. — The holiday week is finally here, and many people will be spending time with friends and family for Thanksgiving. However, some people may find themselves alone for the holiday. Local experts are sharing advice on how to cope with social isolation and battle the holiday blues.
“It really comes from people having this expectation of the holidays. It builds up, and then things don’t quite turn out how we want them to,” said Dr. Ryan Wagoner, the Vice-Chair for Clinical Services in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at USF.
For some, the holidays can bring on stress and anxiety. If you can’t be with family, that could also mean feelings of loneliness and isolation. To help deal with these feelings, Dr. Wagoner first suggests you set reasonable expectations around the holidays.
“Everything will not turn out perfect. I promise you it won’t. It never does turn out perfect,” said Wagoner. “However, if you set reasonable expectations for being able to see people, enjoy time together, enjoy the holidays, I think that as long as that’s tempered, you should have a better benefit from it.”
Second, he said try to stay connected as best you can, even leverage technology we’ve used during the pandemic if you’re not able to be with family.
“Is it going to be the same? No, of course, it’s not. It’s not perfect, but at least it’s something to maintain that connectiveness that many people do want during the holidays,” said Dr. Wagoner.
If you can get together with people locally, Wagoner explains that might be a good option as long as it’s done safely, but also keep in mind your cheerful season might not be the same as someone else’s.
“It’s always good to keep in mind the perspective of others, particularly during these times of great joy, but also sometimes isolation and sadness for other people,” said Wagoner.