Stress is something no one gives thanks for this time of year, and yet our annual rituals during Thanksgiving have a knack for provoking anxiety.
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” says Abby Read, MS, RDN, LD, wellness coach and program coordinator at Methodist Dallas and Methodist Charlton Medical Centers. “You can actually put thankfulness back into Thanksgiving.”
Break the habit of holiday stressors, whether it’s financial worries or family chaos, by considering a few helpful tips.
Exercise is one of the best stress busters around, and the cooler weather makes it easier to get outside and exert yourself, whether that’s a quiet walk or a vigorous hike.
“Pick something active that brings you joy and make that part of the holiday,” Read suggests.
Ease your mind by setting boundaries before the stress gets overwhelming.
“This could mean setting a budget that is communicated from the beginning, making clear rules around family drama, or excusing yourself from certain activities,” Read says.
This season may go smoother than you expect if you’re more intentional about prioritizing your mental well-being.
UNPLUG AND BE PRESENT
When it comes to setting boundaries, some may find it hardest to set aside social media and ignore their smartphones for a bit.
But it’s nearly impossible to live in the moment and enjoy the company of family and friends when so many other distractions — from work to politics to the latest sports scores — are vying for your attention.
“Give yourself a mental break from your newsfeed,” Read says.
She suggests focusing on making memories rather than posting the latest photo of that memory online. After all, you may find more gratification actually fishing rather than fishing for compliments and thumbs-ups on your timeline.
“Scrolling through social media can lead to comparing yourself to others and feeling bad about it,” Read warns.
For many of us, the holidays — especially Thanksgiving — are all about indulging in comfort foods.
But all those unhealthy meals inevitably lead to more anxiety if we cast aside our healthy eating goals. That’s why the holidays often end in a New Year’s resolution.
This year, resolve to switch up some Thanksgiving favorites for healthier versions:
- Make stuffing with whole-grain bread cubes and apples
- Make a green bean casserole with fresh green beans and crunchy baked onions
- Try roasting sweet potatoes in the air fryer.
“And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water,” Read advises.
It’s easy to forget why we celebrate Thanksgiving, even though it’s right there in the name.
Of course, that problem predates the pandemic, but the daily grind of COVID-19 has only further obscured the reason for the season.
“The burden that the pandemic has put on our lives can make it easy to fall into a negative thought spiral,” Read says.
Do yourself a favor and remember what you’re grateful for, but don’t stop there because thoughts are fleeting, especially the positive ones.
“Write down what you’re thankful for,” Read suggests. “This can help reframe your mindset and put you in a state of positive thinking even in the midst of the holiday chaos.”