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How to Ease Thanksgiving Day Stress

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving is a time meant for reflection and appreciation, usually spent with friends and family, eating a hearty meal, relaxing and having fun. However, we all know that along with the laughter and gratitude, there can also be some anxiety and stress from planning and traveling for the holiday. To keep anxiety and stress at bay, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you better tackle the Thanksgiving to-do list and focus on enjoying the celebration and company of those around you.

  1. Make a Meal Plan

The Thanksgiving feast is one of the most important – and time consuming – parts of the entire holiday. Instead of being stuck in the kitchen all day, sit down a few days prior and make a plan. Are there certain dishes you can make ahead of time? Can you assign guests to bring different sides? Write down the exact times dishes are going in and out of the oven so everything in the kitchen runs smoothly. Desserts and appetizers can easily be prepared in advance leaving the oven and stove free for day-of cooking.

  1. Make Time for Exercise

Focusing on health and exercise usually takes a back seat during the holiday season. However, physical activity is proven to help manage stress and ease anxiety, so don’t throw it entirely by the wayside.[1] Make exercise a family event by putting together a flag football game in the backyard or sign up to run or walk in a Thanksgiving 5k. Even squeezing in a quick yoga session in the living room can be a great way to prepare for the day and put yourself in a mindful place.

  1. Handle Tough Relatives

For some, Thanksgiving means seeing extended family, including those that don’t always see eye-to-eye. Don’t let the stress of these potential interactions ruin the day; instead, have a plan and set boundaries beforehand. Talk to your family members about what topics should be avoided at these types of gatherings and bridge the conversation to another topic when a controversial comment is made. Another great way to avoid conflict is to create place cards to ensure you can keep people who need to be separated at opposite ends of the table.

  1. Plan with the Whole Group

Having everybody on the same page can be extremely helpful in ensuring that the entire day runs smoothly.  A couple days before Thanksgiving, send a schedule of events and action items to the full guest list so that everybody knows the plan and what is expected of them.

While the holidays bring reunions and happiness, they can also bring some chaos and anxiety. Being prepared will help ease much of the stress that can come with Thanksgiving. Incorporating these small suggestions may seem like another item to add to your list, but in the end, they can mean a stress-free and more joyous Thanksgiving holiday.

[1] Physical Activity Reduces Stress. Retrieved from

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