How to Have an Amazing, Anxiety-free Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to share my top ten tips for making your Thanksgiving as happy and healthy as possible:

1. Make a thankful list

This tip shouldn’t be too big of a surprise, given that it’s Thanksgiving! Write down each and every single thing in your life that you’re thankful for. Keep it in your pocket and take a look at it whenever you start to feel overwhelmed throughout the day.

2. Plan some healthy activity

Schedule two quick, brisk walks outside: One prior to eating, and one a little while following the meal. Make sure you stick to a schedule so you don’t feel tempted to overdo it. Take your first walk shortly before the meal, and have an activity planned for a certain time after your post-dinner walk (try the game listed in tip number 8!).

3. Get support

This tip is an oldie, but goodie: It’s important to have someone by your side who you know you can talk to if you start to feel anxious!

4. Scan the offerings

Check out what’s being served before you grab a plate. That way you can think about how you can have a balanced meal that includes the foods you like best. If you need to, talk to your “support person” about what to choose.

5. Be mindful while eating

This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. Eat at an appropriate pace, enjoy your food, and listen to your body!

6. Scan your surroundings

Especially if you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed, remember to look around at the people in the room with you: What do you love about them? Why are you thankful to have them in your lives? The holiday is about so much more than the food!

7. Start a conversation

Get involved with the wonderful people celebrating with you, rather than worrying about all the food. Try to enjoy the experience! If you’re not sure what to talk about, here are a few conversation starters to try: What are the top three things you’re thankful for this year? Are you doing any “Black Friday” shopping? When are you going to start decorating for Christmas? What’s the number one thing on  your Christmas list? What has your family been up to lately?

8. Play the “Thankful Game”

Put each person’s name on an index card, and then put all cards into a big hat or bowl. Have each person draw someone else’s name, and then write something they’re thankful for about that person on the back of the card. Collect all of the cards and then hand each person’s card to them so they can read it. You can keep this anonymous, or have everyone read their cards out loud and then try to guess who wrote about them!

9. Take breaks if you need to

There are no rules that you have to be surrounded with your entire family at all times. If you need to, take a break or two to sit in a quiet room on your own. Meditate, pray, breathe deeply, or reread the list you made of the things you’re thankful for. Then go back and enjoy your company!

10. Trust your body, and yourself

As long as you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to have a healthy, happy, balanced holiday. And even if you don’t eat exactly the way you’d like, remember that it’s just one day. You will be able to get back on track tomorrow. Your body is intelligent, and as long as you stay mindful of what your body needs, you will always stay in great shape!

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14 thoughts on “How to Have an Amazing, Anxiety-free Thanksgiving!

  1. Justine I love this!! 🙂 Even for those who are recovered, Thanksgiving can be a REALLY difficult & triggery holiday. I’m already getting anxious — but I think I’m going to steal some of these tips 🙂 Especially the two walks one — AND now that I’m thinking of it I totally have an excuse: I can walk Max’s uncle’s dog! 🙂

    • Thanks Sable! We were very lucky here today, the weather was SO nice so I definitely got both of my walks in! Hope your day was wonderful too! 🙂

  2. Excellent suggestions! Sometimes, we get so wrapped in the food part of the Holidays that we sometimes forget it should be more about time with family and friends. We need to slow down, enjoy the company, and not make ourselves miserable because of too much food.

    P.S. I’ve just recently started following your blog, and love it.

    • Thanks Haley! So glad you like the blog 🙂

      That’s so true about the holidays. 🙂 I think this Thanksgiving was probably the LEAST anxious holiday I’ve had in a very long time. The weather was amazing for my walks, and I had a wonderful time visiting with my husband’s family. So much better than how they used to be for me! I hope you had a great day as well!

    • It’s never too late–They’re a great help through the whole holiday season! I know my Thanksgiving was GREAT yesterday. And I’m feeling very positive about Christmas as well–even though there have definitely been several Christmases in my past that were pretty anxiety-ridden! Not this year 🙂

  3. I am recovering – I can never say recovered as there are some parts that never leave- from an eating disorder. I also escaped a terribly abusive first marriage, I am so very thankful for the lessons I learned.
    Sorry that you have had to go through similar.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I think it’s so important that we do that. I also am thankful for what I’ve learned; I consider myself a much wiser person now, and I know that I will never take the wonderful relationship I have now for granted! God bless and I wish you the best!

  4. I really liked your balance of ideas. (I will confess – the thankful stuff actually increases my anxiety, but I know that is helpful for a lot of people) I was really happy to find that there were a variety of foods, and lots of them both yummy and healthy, where we went for our first dinner. I’m thinking the same will be true tomorrow, because we are eating with friends and one of the friends is a diet buddy.

    • That’s wonderful! That’s the nice thing about an OVER-abundance of food sometimes–you usually will have some very healthy options there too! That’s great you have friends who are supportive of you too 🙂

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