Nov 17, 2015

5 Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude, family bonding, and reflection...

...but like so many holidays, sometimes our perceived obligations to have everything just right get in the way and stop us from appreciating the tradition’s true meaning. In order to get back to the holiday’s roots and truly enjoy it, here are five tips to take the stress out of your thanksgiving.

Spend Time With Loved Ones
This might seem obvious, but make a conscious choice to spend Thanksgiving with people you love and who make you feel valued and positive. Don’t make Thanksgiving a reason to surround yourself with people out of obligation. Perhaps certain groups of friends or family members tend to bicker or not treat you as you’d like to be treated. Consider collating a group of people of your own choosing, try a mixture of friends, family members, and new people in your life. Researchers at Harvard found that positive social connections relieve stress and even help us live longer! Bottom line: decide mindfully and wisely who you spend this special time with, and let them know how glad you are to have them in your life.

Plan Ahead
If you know that cooking a Thanksgiving meal is likely to cause you stress and lessen your enjoyment of the day, give yourself a break by planning ahead. If this means buying a pre-cooked Turkey, making the meal a potluck, arranging for a friend or family member to be your co-chef, or even eating out, do it! If you dread cleaning and tidying when you have guests, choose one area or room each day for the week leading up to Thanksgiving and tackle them one at a time.

Stay Healthy
Thanksgiving is notorious for being a time of indulgence, but don’t feel obligated to make it a time of overindulgence. Of course it’s nice to treat yourself, but do so sensibly. Eating and drinking to excess will only make you feel sluggish and unhappy. Combat this issue by sending leftovers home with guests so you’re not tempted to go overboard in the days after the holiday. Try to include some lighter vegetable dishes alongside the traditional heavy turkey, pie, and bread elements.

Stay Active
Another way to make your holiday a healthy one is to incorporate some light exercise. Research shows that even gentle exercise can reduce stress and boost happiness. Suggest a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, or a game of football in the yard. Even a fun indoor game like charades will get people up and moving!

Speak Up
It may seem clichéd, but an ideal way to remember the meaning of thanksgiving is to go around the table and let everyone name something they’re thankful for. This is a tradition that is very well-known, but put into practice less than you might think. What better time to talk about what you’re grateful for than when surrounded by your loved ones?