Deep Dive (Nov. 24): Dr. Ditzell, Rabbi Slatkin on Navigating Holiday Season Stress

U.S. airlines and airports prepare for a surge of travelers ahead of Thanksgiving. As vaccination rates have risen, many Americans are traveling for the holidays. TSA expects to screen about 20 million passengers during the busy Thanksgiving travel period, compared with nearly 26 million in 2019.

For those traveling by car, gas prices are 62 percent higher than they were at this time last year, and are the highest since 2012. AAA spokesman Andrew Gross weighs in on the high volume of travelers this year: “There’s a lot more confidence. People are feeling a lot better about traveling. And no matter what the gas prices are—and they are a lot higher than they were last year—people are going to take the trip.”

And we sat down with psychiatrist Dr. Jeff Ditzell and therapist Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin for ways to navigate the holiday season.

Dr. Ditzell said, “This really is the first big holiday for a lot of people, a lot of families coming together after quarantine, the pandemic. … But a lot of people also aren’t used to being around crowds or traveling. So there’s certain things you can do: One, I think, is anticipating the obstacle, meaning you shouldn’t really be caught on your back foot with an unexpected anxiety regarding being around people. If you haven’t been around people, of course, you’re more likely to be a little bit anxious, given everything that’s gone on. So be gentle with yourself at the same time, expect that you might have this anxiety, and anticipate and put some things in place so that you’re not caught in a reactive stance and kind of feel like you’re drowning.”

And Rabbi Slatkin had some tips for couples, saying, “The more that you can understand the family culture for both people, where they’re coming from, what their experience is, what their expectation is, and also gives a little bit of insight into whosever house they’re going to be going to … And then you can be prepared for the shock and the disappointment or to be able to tolerate it better.”

Tune into Deep Dive as we explore these topics and more.

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