How to discuss safely celebrating holidays with family during pandemic

As we see a surge in cases, now is the time to talk about how you will celebrate with your family during the holidays… but these conversations can be tough.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide is making some people hesitant to gather with loved ones for the holidays. 

Experts say by this weekend, you should communicate with family you want to celebrate with and establish a plan. If no plan is reached, consider not gathering. 

Plus, all attendees should start limiting outside exposure to the public.

RELATED: Bryant family self-isolating for weeks just to visit grandma for holidays

Isis Pettway, MS, LAC, a therapist in central Arkansas, has advice for people who want to start those conversations, but may not know how.

She says first, people have to set boundaries for themselves and understand what is best for their health.

“You have to focus on what we call your circle of control,” said Pettway. 

“I can’t control what happens in anybody else’s household, but I can control what happens in mine. I can control what’s okay and not okay for me,” said Pettway.

Pettway also says we need to better connect with our emotions and mourn the loss of expectations we had for this year.

“A lot of times we think mourning is just for physical death, but it’s so much more than that. It’s for any loss that is experienced,” said Pettway.

Now is the time to get creative. Pettway suggests using GroupMe for family to share photos and messages instantly with everyone. 

A Zoom meeting can also be set up to get the family together virtually.

Holidays can be tough for anyone. If you need counseling, check with your employer to see if they are offering employee assistance.

Arkansans can also get free help with AR-Connect. For more information about AR-Connect, you can e-mail arconnect@uams.edu

RELATED: Gov. Hutchinson releases winter strategy to combat COVID-19 in Arkansas

The AR-Connect call center is available 24/7 at 501-526-3563 or 800-482-9921. The virtual clinic operates Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.