Reducing Thanksgiving Stress

Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the holiday season. Get a grip on stress levels now!

By FamilyTime

 For most of us, Thanksgiving is the starting line for the holiday season. As soon as the kitchen timer sounds the bell that the turkey is done, we are off and running, heading down the track to the finish line on New Year's Day!

Slow down. The holidays are not a race or a competition. Approaching them as such only aggravates stress levels, which are no good for anyone. Start with a low-stress Thanksgiving.

Don't Expect Perfection
You've heard it before: don't expect this or any holiday to be perfect. Not everyone will enjoy it as much as you hope. You may not have as much fun as you anticipate. This is okay.

The trick is to accept these realities and then make the most of the day. Enjoy visiting with loved ones. If you prepared it, take pride in the meal; if not, be grateful for those who did.

Expect underlying tension among some family members but keep in mind that you can't "fix " this anymore than you are responsible for it.

Keep It Simple
How often have you decided to simplify the Thanksgiving meal only to find yourself in the kitchen at midnight baking pies or up at dawn mixing stuffing?

Make a commitment to streamline the meal well ahead of time. Cut back on the number of dishes. Delegate and let others bring food. Order a centerpiece instead of making one. Buy pies and rolls from a local bakery. 

If your family agrees, make reservations at a local restaurant. This is the most stress-free solution of all!

Make New Traditions
Don't be afraid to abandon a particularly stressful Thanksgiving gathering. For example, explain to far-away relatives that you can't handle the confusion of holiday travel and arrange to visit at a quieter time of year.

Forgo the turkey altogether on Thanksgiving Day and hike in a local park. Suggest to the family that you visit a nearby city and eat in a popular restaurant (call ahead to make sure it's open!).

Commit to working in a local soup kitchen or visiting the elderly.

Give Yourself Breaks
Several times during shopping, cooking, and celebrating, remove yourself from the activity. Take a few minutes to control your breathing. Sit still, with your eyes closed, and breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm.

Make sure you exercise regularly during the season. Set aside 20 or 30 minutes each day to walk or visit the gym. If you can afford more time, take it. Walk in a pretty neighborhood or park. Don't count the time spent walking up and down supermarket aisles!

Get enough sleep. Eat healthfully. While it's more than permissible to enjoy the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, when the meal is over, eat sensibly again. You will feel better.