Thanksgiving is just over a week away, which means most of us have begun preparing for the upcoming festivities! Meal planning, grocery shopping, packing for a trip or setting up your home to welcome guests, organizing, cleaning, the list goes on and on! In a recent Pysch Central article, John M. Grohol, Psy.D explains that while Thanksgiving can be a great time for families to reconnect, it can also be very overwhelming and stressful.
Being constantly overwhelmed and stressed during the holiday season can really take a toll on your mental health. Closely following Thanksgiving is Christmas and New Year’s, so it is important to start practicing stress reducing techniques now. That way you can fully enjoy the next couple of months!
Tips for Keeping Your Stress Levels Low
- Remember what Thanksgiving is about. The real meaning is to gather in unity and to give It’s time of healing and of sharing our strength and happiness. Try focusing on feeling gratitude instead of putting pressure on yourself to make everything perfect. This will help you feel happy and positive, while also lowering your stress levels.
- If family members cause you stress, make a mental list on how to prevent stressful situations before everyone arrives. Figuring out exactly what can trigger your stress will help you prevent it, or at least keep it from getting out of control. For example, if there are any tense subjects, make sure to avoid bringing them up. If they come up anyway, have a plan to leave the room and step outside for a breath of fresh air.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Save your favorite tasks or dishes for yourself, and delegate the rest to friends and family members. Ask people to bring their favorite side dish with them and ask for help cleaning up. Most people are happy to help, and it gives you more time to socialize and helps prevent you from feeling isolated or exhausted.
- If decorating is not your thing, don’t force yourself to go over the top to please others. In reality, friends and family are there to spend time with you and share in giving gratitude, not to judge your home or table set up. Keeping things simple can really lower your stress levels and opens up more time to enjoy the day.
- Stay as active as possible! Exercise is one of the best stress relivers, so try planning a workout on Thanksgiving morning. It could be a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a short run through the fall scenery, or even strength exercises at home. You can also consider having the whole family do a Thanksgiving 5k or plan for an afternoon of flag football. You might be surprised just how happy and relaxed everyone is after getting some exercise!
- The holiday season tends to be stressful because we are constantly busy and on the go. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to be mindful and take mental breaks throughout the day. Whether it is starting slow and enjoying your morning coffee in peace or using a task like washing the dishes to reflect on your day, whatever helps you relax and become more aware of the little moments of happiness.
For more helpful information, be sure to check out the Psych Central Coping with Thanksgiving Guide. This guide covers topics such as, navigating the holidays while in recovery, overcoming depression during the holidays, facing the holidays after trauma, mindfulness techniques to practice over the holidays, and so much more!