Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

BY Victoria Ann Diaz TIMENovember 20, 2014 PRINT

For most of us, November is best known for Thanksgiving Day, a time to reflect and give thanks for all that we have with our families and friends. For some, this holiday also kicks off a major holiday shopping season and countdown to the New Year.

The holiday season can be filled with fun shopping, decorating, office parties, and cooking the family favorites. But, it can also be a stressful time with you trying to fit all of the holiday preparations into an already hectic schedule.

Here are some easy tips to help you enjoy a more stress-free Thanksgiving:

Plan Ahead

Get organized and prepare early. Make a checklist for the big day. Having a sense of accomplishment will help you reduce stress. Crossing the items off your list will also eliminate the possibility of forgetting something important.

If you are hosting family and friends at your home, draft a guest list and plan the menu early. This will help you eliminate impulse buying, saving you money and ensuring that you remember all of the special items your guests may need.

Don’t wait until the last minute to shop. Shopping when you are not rushed will help you avoid stress and anxiety, as well as long lines.

Ask for Help

Let others contribute to the meal by allowing them to bring a food or dessert item. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Also, ask for assistance to set the table, cut up fruit or vegetables, and help with the cleanup.

Clean up the kitchen as you go along. This will help to keep the clutter and stress down. A messy or cluttered kitchen can make anyone feel overwhelmed. But keeping things organized will help you feel more calm and in control every step of the way.

Avoid Overeating

Don’t skip breakfast on Thanksgiving Day. This will help you avoid overeating later on.

Try not to fill up on appetizers during the feast, and remember to eat everything in moderation. It takes about 15–20 minutes for your body to signal it’s full, so slow things down and stop eating when you are full. If portion size is a challenge, try using a salad bowl or dessert dish instead of a dinner plate.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. This is really important, especially after a large meal, so that your digestion can function properly.

Most importantly, don’t feel guilty. It’s OK to treat yourself once in a while.

Stay Active

Stay active during the holiday. Plan a walk before or after the meal. Or, if the weather outside is frightful, try a dance contest or movement-based game at home.

Keep the kids and adults occupied with music, games, and helping with cleanup. This will make everyone feel engaged and in the holiday spirit throughout the day.

Count Your Blessings

Be kind to yourself. Don’t forget to sit down, relax, and enjoy your guests’ company.

Give yourself and others a break if something doesn’t go right. Don’t stress out over a forgotten item or a not-so-perfect place setting. Instead, focus on all of your blessings.

Be grateful for the feast and all the loving guests gathered together to share Thanksgiving Day with you.

Victoria Ann Diaz is a certified integrative health and life coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In her Life Balance Health Coach practice, she supports clients with a mindful-living approach to health and wellness. For more information, visit

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