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How To Cope As Holiday Season, COVID-19, Election 2020 Adds On To Stressors

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- With Americans already starting to feel the stressors of the holiday season coupled with the pandemic and the election, health experts say the key to not getting burned out over the next few months is to have a plan in place for managing physical and mental health.

"These truly are unprecedented times. People are stressed out to the limit," said child and family psychotherapist Fran Walfish.

The best thing experts recommend is to set boundaries for holiday gatherings and pre-determine which topics are up for discussion and what safety precautions are required.

"You have to decide with your partner, what is your comfort level for you, your children, and your family and extended family.  A lot of times it helps if you have a time limit, a start and ending time, so you know this is how much time we will be together," Walfish said.

For those who opt for in-person family gatherings, the state has updated guidelines allowing outdoor-only gatherings for up to three households.

"If you have to move inside, you need to just gather with your own household. Gatherings are not permitted inside with members that aren't in your household and for good reason. We are increasingly becoming aware of how much easier it is to transmit the virus indoors," said county health director Barbara Ferrer.

Other health experts say it's also important to keep track of who you'll be around to improve contact tracing efforts and any additional precautions.

"You need to consider when you decide on those three families, those three friends is what are their own risk factors?  Who are you going to interact with," said One Medical family physician Dr. Natasha Bhuyan.

Some factors to consider include gathering with people who are older, have pre-existing conditions, recently traveled on a plane, are essential workers, among other categories.

Sharing food, singing or yelling are discouraged since they can increase transmission risk, and masks must be worn at gatherings while people are not eating.

"Every individual needs to allow themselves to make mistakes, to know I am not going to handle this perfectly, to be kind to ourselves and gentle. We are all in this together, you are not alone," Walfish said.

If you plan to get tested before a family gathering, it's best to test about 48 hours prior.

L.A. County is asking its residents to limit gatherings to two hours to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus.

For more information about gathering restrictions and guidelines, see the county website.

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