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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Edge, LPC

Turkey Day and Screen Week: Navigating Screen Use During Thanksgiving Break in 2020

If you're a college or high school student, you're most likely on Thanksgiving break. Get ready for stuffing yourself with turkey, time off from studying, and small talk with extended family. Well, maybe not the small talk.

Thanksgiving this year will look different. We probably won’t have time with extended family. We won’t be able to go watch the latest movie in theaters. It might feel like we won’t be able to do much besides relax, eat, and be on screens.

As you enjoy your time away from school, I encourage you to keep the following things in mind to make the most of it. You are in control of your break, but these ideas can help you make the most of your Thanksgiving.

Be Physically Active

Thanksgiving break is a great time to be physically active. Maybe you’ve been busy studying and have not had time to take a nice long walk outside or exercise as much as you would like. Use Thanksgiving to spend time outside enjoying the leaves changing and feel that brisk, cool air on your face.

Take a hike in a local park or trail. This can be a great time to clear your head. If we get into a positive routine of exercising during the Thanksgiving break, it will be easier to keep that up when school starts up. Plus, the more active we are, the less guilty we feel about eating another piece of pumpkin pie!

Explore Something New

It’s natural to focus on taking it easy during the holidays. However, there is a lot of fun exploring new hobbies and interests when you have free-time. Rather than mindlessly refreshing your Instagram feed, you could pick up an old hobby you used to enjoy. You could learn something new and have a blast doing it.

We all like novelty. Get creative and try something new that looks interesting this Thanksgiving. Here are a few ideas.

· Cook or bake a holiday treat

· Draw your favorite superhero or character. Try baby Yoda!

· Plant some cool-season veggies

· Rollerblade or skateboard

· Play an instrument

· Read an interesting book about someone you admire

It might feel weird to try something new this Thanksgiving. But you could end up finding something you really enjoy that can add great value to your life.

Connect with Family and Friends

Outside of your bubble, it’s difficult to connect with friends and family. We have to get creative on connecting this holiday season. Doing something with people can help strengthen relationships. Pick an activity mentioned above, and do that with a family member. Bust out Monopoly or play a family favorite game. Playing games is a great way to build relationships.

Engage with interesting conversations with your family. Can't think of any good questions? Try this list to get started.

While it’s best to break up screen time with other activities, we can use screens to help us connect. If you are wanting to connect with others online, try the House Party app to play Heads Up or Tabletop Simulator to play Chess. Let’s make the most of Thanksgiving by improving our relationships with those we love.

Be Mindful of Screen Use

It’s natural for us to spend hours and hours on our devices. Whether playing video games, using social media, or watching YouTube videos, screens can eat up a lot of our time. While playing a video game or watching a funny video can help you relax, doing it all the time can keep us from fully enjoying our break.

Being aware of how much time you are spending on your devices is a great start in making the most of your break. Set a time of how long you want to be on your device then have a plan on what you can do when that time is up.

It’s easy to spend countless hours on screens if we are bored and feel there is literally nothing else to do. But there are other things to do. We have to be creative, but there is great joy and fun from activities outside of screens.


If you have a car, use your break to make some money. Food delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash are usually looking for help, especially during the holiday season when people might be wanting to order take-out more.

Finding part-time work during your holiday break can bring you some extra cash and give you something to do. Check out Indeed to search for jobs near you.

Get Some Sleep!

How often do you start a holiday break thinking, “I’m going to catch up on sleep,” only to stay up to 2 am every night binging the latest series on Netflix. Take advantage of the time off from school and get some consistent sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. You will feel better and it will set you up for success when classes start again.


Like most of this year, Thanksgiving 2020 might be a holiday we just need to get through. Be encouraged that the Year of the Suck will not last forever.

If you can not see your family during the holidays, know that will not have to be forever. Be encouraged there has been legitimate progress for a COVID vaccine. We will be able to spend time with our family and loved ones in the future. Focus on that hope to help get through this holiday.


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