How to Have a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is typically a time to give thanks and enjoy quality time with your loved ones. It can also be stressful with food preparations, family dynamics and unexpected disappointments. Experts say with a little planning, flexibility and mindfulness, it is possible to enjoy a healthy, wholesome, and stress-free Thanksgiving.
Food first. Take the stress out of the kitchen by including family members in the process. “Cooking can be fun if you plan for extra time for kitchen helpers,” says Marina Bedrossian, Huntington-based Irritable Bowel Syndrome dietician and nutritionist. Delegate tasks and include the kids. “Children who cook are more likely to be healthier adults,” she says.
When it comes to sweets, it’s ok to indulge a bit, Bedrossian says. “Going into the holidays with an ‘all or nothing’ approach to sweets typically backfires.” However, don’t forget your veggies! “Thanksgiving vegetable dishes bring lots of flavor without weighing you down.”
If you’re feeling adventurous, “add a surprising authentic Thanksgiving experience by serving more traditional foods such as clams, chestnuts, duck, smoked fish, or even venison,’ Bedrossian suggests.
Think positive! “Your perspective and the things you tell yourself set you up for the day before the day even begins!” says Jessica Moloney, licensed mental health counselor and motivational speaker in Smithtown. Set good intentions and consider your triggers. “Try not to put pressure on yourself to be happy or accommodating for someone else’s sake,” she says.
“Focus on the positive statements you want to bring into your conscious mind, and make that your reality,” says Moloney. “You need to value your inner peace more than you let external forces control it.” Set boundaries to protect both your inner self and your relationships, she adds. “Be sure to understand your own boundaries and communicate them clearly when needed.”
Manage your expectations and set yourself up for success, advises Jessica Dogali, licensed medical health counselor at Jessica Dogali Mental Health Counseling, PC, East Meadow. “Our expectation that the holiday has to be perfect takes us away from the ability to be present and in the moment,” Dogali says. Focus on your company and all of your blessings. “Take a deep look into your own feelings and ask yourself what will bring you happiness that day.”
Holidays often bring about stronger emotions surrounding loss. “Be kind to yourself and remember that positive and negative emotions often coexist. You can miss your loved one and still enjoy the holiday,” Dogali says.
Don’t neglect yourself as you prepare for the holiday. To reduce stress and anxiety, “practice good habits like getting a full night’s sleep, eating well, exercise, and allow yourself the space to process your emotions,” says Dogali.