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‘Keep everyone safe’: El Paso psychologist offers tips on having a meaningful holiday while apart

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- We're just days away from the holiday known for bringing people together. But this Thanksgiving, many must stay physically apart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges Americans to stay home and celebrate only with those in the same household. The agency warns that gathering with friends and family in other households can increase the risk of spreading the virus.

A local psychologist says technology can help, especially video chat platforms like FaceTime and Zoom. To spice up a normal video call, Dr. Melanie Longhurst, a psychologist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, recommends adding in a virtual activity. Dr. Longhurst recommends cooking the same recipe with others virtually at the same time.

"Not ideal, but I think it's important to remember what we have to do," Dr. Longhurst said. "And to keep that in mind in order to keep everyone safe, so we can see those same people around the dinner table when it is safe."

For those who may lack access to technology or internet access, Dr. Longhurst recommends dropping off a Thanksgiving care package. Packages can include arts and crafts, food or ingredients for a recipe.

Another tip? Dr. Longhurst recommends everyone in a household get involved in the holiday preparation and cooking, even if they have not done so in past celebrations.

Dr. Longhurst says remembering what the holiday is all about can help too: giving thanks. She pointed to research showing that gratitude can improve mood and well-being.

"Perhaps taking a moment every day leading up to Thanksgiving, in order to make it a habit, and thinking about what you're grateful for and sharing that maybe around the dinner table or with your family, whoever is around you," she said. "Maybe starting a little tree of sorts where you write something you're grateful for on a leaf every day and you post it somewhere where everyone can see it."

El Paso / News

Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.

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