· By Erica Berthold
The Recipe for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
The idea of loved ones gathering together and enjoying some delicious food sounds harmless and actually, quite nice, right?
Unfortunately, when thinking about their loved ones, this sentiment isn’t shared by all. In fact, many people view Thanksgiving as a holiday full of triggers caused by challenging family dynamics, finances, general stress, and more.
While those feelings may be inevitable this Thanksgiving, there are many ways to balance this overwhelming emotions. You deserve to see this holiday as a day to be thankful for what you have, rather than feel that you’d rather be somewhere or someone else.
How do you do that?
Here we are sharing not a recipe for turkey, but a recipe for a stress-free Thanksgiving.
How to reduce stress this Thanksgiving
Step 1: Don’t overcommit
Thanksgiving may be a time of many invitations to attend dinners, parties, and more, which can feel great for your ego. However, it can also be overwhelming and, thus, stressful.
Rather than trying to feed that ego that loves all the invites, or rather than trying to be a people pleaser and not disappoint others, only commit to what you know will keep your mental health in a good place.
If that means one dinner, great. Pick one dinner to commit to. If that means more, great. Just make sure your stress levels remain low when you’re bouncing from place to place to ensure that you get what you want out of this holiday.
Step 2: Say “no”
This one may be challenging, but saying “no” this Thanksgiving (or anytime, if we’re being honest), is okay.
If you’ve been invited to dinners that you know will shoot your stress through the roof and you’ll leave worse off than you came, you can say “no.”
If you’re asked to spend money on an expensive Thanksgiving dinner when you feel financially stressed, you can say “no.”
When someone at the dinner table asks you to talk about why you’re still single, you can say “no.”
Bonus point: you don’t have to explain your reason for saying “no” if you don’t want to, and you also don’t have to say “sorry” along with saying “no.”
Step 3: Maintain positive mental health habits
Because Thanksgiving can be triggering for many, it’s important that you go into this Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season with your mental health habits to support you.
Though things can get busy this time of year, it is more important now than ever to stick to your mental hygiene routine.
“What’s mental hygiene?” you ask?
It’s taking care of your mind in the same way that you take care of your body. You brush your teeth and shower every day, but what are you doing every day to keep your mental health in good shape?
The key to an optimal mood is a mental hygiene routine.
Here are some of our favorite things to incorporate into a mental hygiene routine:
- Meditation. It’s no secret that meditation is one of the best things you can do for your mental health in the present, and for the future as well. Study after study shows that meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, both of which tend to hit hard around the holiday season.
- Breathwork. If meditation isn’t your cup of tea but you want to experience some of the same benefits, try breathwork. This is a more active form of meditation that has been shown in studies to also reduce stress.
- Exercise. An active life contributes to positive mental health, and you don’t just have to take our word for it. Countless studies have been conducted that show the positive effects of exercise on mental health, particularly when it comes to its ability to reduce stress.
- Supplements. The right supplements can help give your brain that extra boost it needs to reach optimal health. Be sure to check out the below supplements to help alleviate stress and anxiety, and have you feeling better this Thanksgiving
B vitamins. These vitamins are crucial for brain health as well as mood. Be sure you get B vitamins that are methylated and, thus, promote the bioavailability of nutrients that will keep your stress levels low and your good mood high.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can lead to depression and other psychiatric disorders. Look for sustainably-sourced omega-3 fatty acid supplements that won’t leave you with a fishy aftertaste.
Magnesium. Magnesium l-threonate, malate, and glycinate are all-stars when it comes to reducing stress, calming the nervous system, decreasing anxiety, and boosting mood. The best way to get magnesium is in a tasty powder that you can mix into your water.
Step 4: Respect differences
The running joke about the aunt, uncle, grandparent, or parent that always manages to stir up controversy in the topics of politics, religion, and more during the holidays is a reality for many. If you stop for a minute and think, chances are good your mind won’t have to run for too long before it finds someone in your family that fits that bill perfectly.
If you know you’ll be seeing that person this Thanksgiving, do your best to respect the differences you may have with them. Doing so doesn’t mean that you agree with them, it simply means that you agree to disagree and thus, avoid conflict at the dinner table (and hopefully anywhere else you interact with them).
You don’t have to engage with them at all when they try to bring up sensitive topics. Here are some things you can say to respect your differences and cut the conversation short before it gets nasty:
- “Please respect the fact that we have different views on XYZ.”
- “It bothers me that you bring these topics up when you know we see them differently.”
- “Maybe we can talk about these things at a more appropriate time.”
Step 5: Take a break
If you’re at Thanksgiving and you feel yourself getting stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or really any negative feeling, then excuse yourself and take a break.
A break can look like:
- Sitting and meditating
- Going for a quick walk
- Listening to some relaxing music
- Anything else that can get your stress levels down to a more manageable place