Holiday Gatherings: How To Mentally Prepare

Anxiety and stress are familiar sources of stress and anxiety during end-of-year holiday celebrations. Increasing family conflict and scrutiny for the last few years has come with pandemic fears. The holiday season will not be an exception, with COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and influenza circulating.

Ravi Shah, a psychiatrist, gave Changing America some advice on mentally preparing for social and family gatherings.

Image Credit: Pexels/Askar Abayev

If Someone Gets Sick, You Should Have A Plan

Shah’s most extensive advice regarding respiratory illnesses like flu, RSV, and COVID-19 has a plan. Shah said, “It’s hard for any of us to make as good of decisions when we feel crummy and sick as when we are feeling healthy and well.” Changing plans when someone gets sick may be stressful, but planning can help ease the pressure.

Make Social And Family Gatherings Less Stressful

“The holidays are a time to socialize and to be with others,” said Shah. Patients often think the holidays should be perfect, and if there is a fight or disagreement, the holidays are “ruined.” gatherings are rarely perfect, if ever – and you shouldn’t expect them to be. Shah continued, “It’s normal to get annoyed or disagree.”

Image Credit: Pexels/Nicole Michalou

Be Ready With Some Responses

Some relatives may ask intrusive questions about dating and marriage during family gatherings. Shah said, “We could talk for hours about why this is wrong or why people shouldn’t do that, but the fact is, people do it.” It may be helpful to think of a few answers to people’s questions. The worst thing is feeling caught off guard and embarrassed about not wanting to discuss the subject. He advised, “Prepare yourself, arm yourself.”.

Take A Moment To Process

It can be helpful to unwind after this busy period. Shah believes that thinking is healthy. Give yourself the necessary space before jumping back into a busy schedule. You could spend the day watching TV or playing your favorite hobbies. Perhaps you’d like to spend time with your partner or a close friend and eat at your favorite restaurants.