A Thanksgiving Survival Guide

As Thanksgiving approaches, many are preparing for a food-filled day with family. While some look forward to the annual gathering, others would rather be the roasted turkey on the dinner table. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the “holiday blues” can stem from a variety of stressors. Many feel obligated to attend or host social events with family members they only see once or twice a year. Interactions with these relatives have a way of highlighting what has or hasn’t changed in a person’s life. They’re also an opportunity for beliefs and political views to clash.

Rather than skipping the holiday entirely, the American Psychological Association (APA) offers these tips to get you through your turkey day:

Take time for yourself. There’s no shame in taking some time to recharge your batteries. Go to the beach, take a walk, or pick-up a good book. Others will benefit when you’re feeling less stressed.

Volunteer. Helping others may lift your spirits and put your struggles in perspective. Find a local charity that needs community volunteers.

Have realistic expectations. No Thanksgiving is perfect and mistakes are inevitable. If one of your dishes spent too much time in the oven, post it on social media and get a few laughs. Make it a fun family memory.

Remember what's important. It’s easy to forget what the holidays are all about. If your feast budget is running high, scale back and remember what the holidays are all about. What matters most is loved ones, not how many dishes are on the table.

Have healthy conversations. Avoid heated disagreements by focusing on what you and your family have in common. You might even want to try a group activity everyone can do together.

Seek support. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings. If you can’t talk about worries with close friends or family members, Mental Health America of Hawaii has a crisis line and a free mental health screening test. Psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals are also great resources for working through a slump. 

Do the holidays ever get you down? Do you have experiences to share or tips to get through the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.