Ways to stay connected with others during an isolated Thanksgiving weekend
KITCHENER -- For many, Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family.
This has become especially hard to do this year, as residents are being asked to keep to their own households for gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns.
World Mental Health Day also happened to fall on the Saturday of the long weekend in which many might be feeling especially isolated.
The pandemic had already throw Evan Ashenhurst’s family plenty of curveballs before the holiday, but a second wave of cases forced him to cancel Thanksgiving plans with extended family.
“Physical health aside, my daughter’s not going to school, and my wife is bouncing between jobs,” he said. “We haven’t seen our extended family for months and we don’t know when we’re going to see them again.”
Ashenhurst adds that the situation has taken a toll on his mental health.
“It comes down to stress and anxiety and having to explain to our daughter that we can’t go see Uncle Jeff or Nana and Pop,” he said. “It just adds to the weight of everything going on.”
One recent university graduate tells CTV News currently students will be going through a difficult time as well.
“I think it’s very difficult for them not to travel home as much and just not have that mental break that they typically have,” they said.
Peer counsellor Maria Andrusiak says it’s important for people to know that they aren’t alone in their struggle.
“Mental health isn’t always about being sick,” she said. “It can just be about being stressed or feeling sad or being disconnected.”
Andrusiak adds that this is an opportunity to create unique ways for people to maintain social connections and mental health.
“Things like geocashing, or adventure hunts, scavenger hunts, I’ve heard so many things were people are going out and doing something together, apart,” she said. “Go and find a little place, grab it, run home, everyone can eat the same meal on their phone.
“There’s lots of weird and fun ways to connect with people, but stay three metres apart.”
Ashenhurst says he’ll be making the most of the weekend with his immediate family and be connecting virtually with his extended family.
“Thankfully between Skype and phone calls we’re able to connect with people as much as possible,” he said. “It’s not the same as walking up to my Mom and giving her a hug.”
Andrusiak adds that people who feel they may need extra support this weekend should not hesitate to reach out to a number of services, such as:
- https://good2talk.ca/ (for kids and teens)
- 2-1-1 (Toll-free: 1-877-330-3213)