Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Lower Thanksgiving Stress by Keeping it Simple

In America, from Halloween until New Years, stress levels tend to rise.  There are many things that perpetuate this trend, such as increased shopping, spending, eating and outward focus, as the holiday season is about giving and sharing time with family and friends.

One of the reasons the holidays have become so hectic is because over the generations, we've tended to make these events much more complicated than they need to be.  In fact, simplifying these events can bring back the joy and reduce stress levels for everyone.

For Thanksgiving this year, keep in mind that you don't have to prepare a large event gathering all by yourself.  Though it is a large feasting event, there is no need for there to be multiple things for one person to prepare.  This only leads to feeling overwhelmed with keeping track of it all.  Be sure to reduce your load by asking everyone who attends to help out by bringing a dish.  This not only helps the person(s) preparing the main meal, but also gives attendees something to do so they can feel they've contributed to the event.

Once people arrive, have simple tasks ready to assign out to anyone offering to help.  There are a number of things others can do to participate in the preparation of the main meal, such as chopping foods, setting the table, carving the meat, pouring wine, greeting guests, etc.  If you are a guest, be sure to show your thanks by offering to do some of these helpful things.

Thanksgiving is about gathering to give thanks.  So be ready to step back and let conversations unfold.  Consider a living room gathering during dessert in which each person is given the opportunity to express what they are thankful for.  Leave some various board games accessible for people who want to play and converse, and stay mindful about what you are personally thankful for as you include yourself in the unfolding festivities. 

There is no need to complicate the event by adding in shopping, which pulls people away from the event and distracts from the festivities.  Something to consider instead is a traditional after-dinner movie, such as A Christmas Carol, or Scrooge.  Or maybe traditional holiday cartoons to keep it light and fun.  Allow plenty of time for visiting with your guests, since this gathering together is really what it's all about.

Keeping the holidays simple is the best way to keep your stress and anxiety at a minimum.  You want to be able to enjoy it and capitalize on the opportunity to relax, catch your breath, and most of all... remember what you are thankful for.

Thanks to Martin Cathrae for the great holiday photo