As Thanksgiving approaches this year, amid the news of a second wave of COVID-19 and re-imposed restrictions on social gatherings, many of us are feeling unsettled, a bit disappointed that large family get-togethers will not be taking place, and perhaps even a bit lonely. As has been the story of 2020, everything feels different, including Thanksgiving.
For many, pandemic-related fatigue is affecting mental health, physical wellness, relationships and habits. Meeting up with friends for coffee, bumping into an acquaintance at a sporting event and sharing a laugh, sitting amongst hundreds of smiling concert-goers, attending large joyful celebrations, like wedding receptions – all seem like things of the past. Even some introverts, who perhaps found physical distancing and staying home a welcome relief in the early stages of the pandemic, are now craving a return to normalcy. A return to human interaction. Seeing smiling faces. Shaking hands. Talking face-to-face. We miss people.
Let’s not forget the value of meaningful conversations. The simple act of sharing something that’s important to you with another person can provide immediate satisfaction. Not everyone enjoys daily social exchanges and connections with family, partners and housemates. With the sudden disappearance of ordinary social interactions from daily life, the impact on those who live alone is magnified.
Perhaps this Thanksgiving, we can all take the opportunity to reach out, in a safe and creative way, to those who could probably use a boost. Perhaps you know someone who lives alone, or you know someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety. Chances are, pretty much everyone you know, even if they appear to be doing just fine, would welcome any gesture that promotes a sense of interaction and connectedness. Small acts like dropping off a meal, sending a letter or note, or chatting via Zoom, can go a long way.
This Thanksgiving, perhaps more than ever before, I think we can all agree that we're thankful for the connections we have with others.