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Thanksgiving in 2020

November 24, 2020

If the statistics are correct, more than 17 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode this year.

And this doesn’t include those linked with anxiety, postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder.

Additionally, five percent of people experience seasonal depression every year.

These statistics are staggering; yet, they’ve become even more significant in 2020. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 30 percent of people say they are currently feeling depressed, and according to a study conducted by the CDC, one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 say they have considered suicide.

Ok, let’s pause for a moment.
Some of you read this blog for leadership insights.
Others of you are looking to improve your corporate culture and develop your team.
Maybe you’re just looking for a feel-good Thanksgiving story this week.

And now you’re sitting here wondering why we are talking about depression.

Here’s why: Thanksgiving—and the holiday season—is a time when many people have a heightened awareness of their deferred dreams and unmet desires. If you’re already clinically depressed, or even just discouraged, this time of year can make it worse. When you add on the heaviness that has come with the events of 2020, this time can be incredibly difficult.

There is no quick or easy fix to depression or despair, and it doesn’t discriminate between people. Wildly successful actors and comedians like Dwayne Johnson and Jim Carrey have both opened up about personal struggles with depression. Even heroes from the Bible weren’t immune to it. There was even a time when Moses asked God to take his life, and David asked himself a question that many of us can relate to:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?” –Psalm 42

Though Thanksgiving is a time we’re supposed to be grateful, it often reminds us of the things we’ve lost or the things we’ve always wanted. This year, Thanksgiving will feel different for all of us. Maybe you’re not traveling for the first time, or you have fewer people at your table. Maybe you have at-risk family members who are unable to join you or people you’ve lost this year—and you wish more than anything they could be there. It might be something else that’s making this year especially tough. 

The bad news is that I don’t have an easy solution to lifting this heaviness, but I do have two pieces of advice that may help give you a little help and a little hope:

1. Turn down the noise. Spend less time with people who discourage you and less time consuming news and media that gives you anxiety. It’s good to be informed, but it’s important to be influenced by what is true, which brings me to my next point . . .

2. Replace the noise with truth. Spend more time with the right people, the kind of people who remind you what is true. And spend more time consuming books, articles, and media that help you think about good things and meditate on what is true.

I know I said that Thanksgiving often reminds us of sad things, and I still think that’s true. But I also know that gratitude is good for us when we are struggling or feeling down. When we focus on what we do have, instead of what we don’t have, we take a small step toward a more positive outlook on life.


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