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Inside Sources: Thinking about the holidays this year with COVID

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SALT LAKE CITY — Don’t let COVID drag you down during the holidays this year.

Deseret News Opinion Editor Boyd Matheson, who is also the host of “Inside Sources,” has explored many topics on the show, but none more important than mental health and suicide prevention. 

As America prepares to celebrate a non-traditional, covid-adapted holiday season, it is crucial to be aware of issues affecting others’ mental health and yourself.

For some, the stress and celebration of the holidays can trigger anxiety, depression and loneliness. This year, physical and social isolation, coronavirus fears, canceled traditions, canceled trips to visit family and the negative news cycle can turn the holidays from happy to miserable.

 Holiday pandemic survival tips

One of Inside Source’s favorite guests, Counselor Jenny Howe, joins Boyd to discuss mental health concerns and tips for coping during this pandemic holiday season. 

“What are some of the things that we should keep in mind rolling into this Thanksgiving in the midst of a pandemic?” Boyd asked.

“What I really love about the circumstances right now — and I know that’s a really strange way to begin this sentence I’m going to say — is that we are thinking outside the box. We are thinking about people in a different and unique way than maybe we would have in the past,” Howe said. 

She explained that people accept that holiday traditions have always been there, always will be and complain about the people they have to spend time with but begrudgingly go along. But this year, there exists an opportunity to reframe the holiday season as a gift, she said.

“It’s not about being toxically positive. It’s not like, ‘This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever,'” Howe said. “I don’t think any of us really expect that.”

Step up for others

She said now is the time to help yourself and the people living with you to feel better about the holidays in the midst of COVID.

“It’s been kind of fun for me. I’ve been learning how to brine a turkey for the first time,” Howe said, adding at the end of the day, we are all responsible for helping ourselves.

“Give us some perspective in terms of best ways to maybe help some of our own family members, especially our teens-and-up family members, who might be struggling in a different way going into this season,” Boyd said.

Teens may not seem to care about the holidays, but Howe advised that it is really important to get their input, especially during COVID.

“Ask and you give them the opportunity to engage in that conversation,” she said. “They feel part of it. They feel connected.”

Boyd stressed that continuing the tradition of the family story, which serves as a connection between generations of the same family, is vital — whether that happens in person or virtually.

“What can we do for those who are maybe just hunkered down a little bit and struggling with ‘Hey, this is not what I signed up for?'” Boyd asked.

“The biggest thing we can give to people is the opportunity to be seen,” Howe said.

She related that a friend recently validated the hurt she had been feeling, and to be seen and heard “lifted my spirits to a place I can’t verbalize with words,” she said. 

“If we acknowledge each other and the ways that we are hurting, it can be one of the most powerful things that we do,” Howe said.


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.


If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, KSL encourages you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.