Thanksgiving Stress: 5 Tips to Keep Calm During the Holidays

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Thanksgiving is here, which means you’ll soon be donning your favorite “reindeer jumper,” as Bridget Jones would say, and gearing up for yet another regrettable feast that pushes your pants’ buttons to the limit.

If you’re dreading thanksgiving stress, or just can’t handle an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, then here are five tips to keep calm during the holidays.

4 Tips to Melt Away Thanksgiving Stress This Season

1) Avoid Unnecessary Drama

Since COVID, I’ve had zero tolerance for added drama. Granted, this will be hard to achieve during Thanksgiving dinner as family members crowd the table with the sole agenda of breeding chaos.

In other words, unnecessary drama will likely rear its ugly head as it always does during the holidays. The best way to avoid it is to stay away from those who bring it on themselves. This includes your mom’s friend who thinks she’s funnier than Ru Paul, your uncle who walks around the dinner table making anti-Semitic jokes, and your cousin who talks in a low guttural voice about his latest sexual conquest.

Just move to a different room, switch seats with someone, or push your chair back and make yourself invisible.

2) Beware of Social Lubricants

Nothing makes you want to clutch a bottle of tequila to your chest more than the idea of spending time with grandma, who just doesn’t understand why you insist on dying your hair green, covering your body with tattoos, and squeezing into jeans that could double as sausage casings.

While alcohol can be a social lubricant to ease the pain of spending time with your family, beware: it does so by assaulting your system with chemicals that cause stress. Not to mention a lovely hangover the next day.

Best to pound down moderately if you wish to remain calm during Thanksgiving dinner and avoid punching someone in the face.

3) Don’t Eat Yourself to Death

Speaking of moderation, you may think that eating yourself to death is the key to avoiding stress during Thanksgiving dinner. But in reality, stuffing your face with too much food will only cause you to feel bloated and tired. And feeling tired can lead to irritability, which in turn causes stress.

No matter what your diet looks like, the average person should probably cut down on their Thanksgiving meal intake. I know this is easier said than done; it’s hard to say no to scrumptious food when you’re pressured by loved ones.

But if you must devour everything in sight, at least do it slowly, with grace, and in moderation.

4) Avoid Political Conversations

No matter what your political views are, avoid this topic at all costs.

I repeat: Avoid this topic at all costs.

Why? Because family dynamics during Thanksgiving dinners are already rocky enough without the added stress of a heated political debate.

Think about it: Can these conversations really be productive? When has a family argument ended with someone changing their mind, or at least feeling satisfied that they made themselves heard? Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, but these are few and far between.

So avoid Thanksgiving-related stress by keeping your mouth shut when it comes to politics. Grin and bear it for four hours before going home and talking about those political fools behind their backs.

5) Try to Have Fun

Crazy thought, right? But it can be done.

Try to have fun at Thanksgiving dinner by spending time with a close loved one. Talk about things that have nothing to do with work, family drama, or politics.

Why not play a game of charades or tell innocuous jokes that won’t offend anyone? Not even “Sensitive Suzie.”

Also, I know this sounds lame, but try to get into the spirit of thanksgiving by actually being thankful for something, whatever that may be.

Can’t think of anything? How about thanking your lucky stars that you have access to a working toilet, that you can read these words, and that you aren’t having to spend the day in a small dark cell at Guantanamo Bay.

I hope these 5 tips for a stress-free thanksgiving help you keep calm this holiday season as low as you gobble down a turkey and stack up on sweets.

For more wellness tips and tricks to slay another day, check out the Archives.

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