Thanksgiving 2021: 7 Ways To Be Thankful This Year

The global pandemic has made the last year and a half very difficult for many; the pandemic has forced numerous adjustments and compromises on us, and the death toll in the US alone is tragically closing in on 740,000 deaths.  Yes, we have a vaccine, and yes positive new cases across the nation (and the world) are trending down, but many of the stressors of COVID-19 remain.  At a time when there is so much negativity and disagreement in the world and within our community, I invite us to focus on the good this Thanksgiving.  I offer the following 7 tips to show gratitude and to give thanks this Thanksgiving 2021.

Be present.  With COVID-19, some of us feel safer to travel than others, and while there are those of us who are vaccinated, many still are not.  These sorts of issues, and others, create challenges for families who would like to celebrate together this Thanksgiving.  But even if your holiday plans to get together are challenging this year, I recommend that you strive to be as present as you can be.  If you can’t be with your larger family due to travel and distance, perhaps you can spend time with family and/or friends who are nearby.  Even if you’re alone on Thanksgiving, you can also use technology to your advantage by connecting via FaceTime or Zoom with your loved ones.

Unplug.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but try not to let it interfere with your family time.  It’s one thing to watch a football game or a movie with others, but it’s entirely another thing to be distracted by technology during a gathering.  You can always check CNN, Fox News, Facebook or other social media sites later, so put down your phone or device and enjoy the occasion with the ones you’re with.

Be agreeable.  Is it better to be right or to get along?  It’s easy to get upset by the many topics and stories in the news these days, but how productive or enjoyable is it to bring those things up with others this Thanksgiving?  Even if you’re with folks that agree with you, you still run the risk of getting worked up when you talk about emotionally charged topics during a festive gathering.  There’s an old saying that politics, money and religion are the three main topics you want to avoid at most social gatherings, and I would agree that they’re probably the very topics you want to stay away from this Thanksgiving.

Be Moderate.  It’s easy to overindulge with food and drink during Thanksgiving, but striving for moderation is always a good thing.  So, instead of going back for that second or third plate, or instead of having that extra glass of wine, try instead to be mindful of your intake.

Move.  Sitting around can be a big part of Thanksgiving, and while relaxing is important, so too is being active.  Movement is always great for the body and mind, so I recommend you try to get out this Thanksgiving.  Going for a walk or a hike, playing a game of flag football with friends and/or family, or signing up for a Thanksgiving 5K or Turkey Trot, are just a few ways to be active or to recover after a heavy meal.

Volunteer.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to serve your community, and there are several ways to give back in our area – donating a turkey or to a local food bank, visiting the elderly, working at a soup kitchen, delivering for Meals on Wheels, etc., are just a few possibilities to consider.  In addition to doing some good in the world for those less fortunate than you or those in need, research on volunteering has also shown that people are happier after volunteering.  With depression and anxiety rates skyrocketing during COVID-19, the need to give is especially great this Thanksgiving, and you will probably feel better about yourself when you do it.

Reflect.  Research studies have repeatedly shown the power of positive thinking.  People who think positively during times of adversity have consistently reported experiencing lower rates of stress/anxiety, depression and health struggles and higher rates of happiness and wellness.  We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways, and the pandemic has forced many of us to take inventory when it comes to how we’re living our lives.  Do you have balance when it comes to you work life and personal life?  Are you thinking about a career change?  How healthy are your important relationships, and are their changes you would like to make?  Thinking positively is important when it comes to self-reflection and to making changes in your life that are good for you.

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

Thanks Giving

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. “Dr. Mike” is a clinical psychologist in private practice.
He can be reached at 703-723-2999, and is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 240, Ashburn