A Stress Free Thanksgiving

As we prepare for The Thanksgiving holiday 2013, turkeys are being bought, with all the holiday fixings of past traditions. You can be sure Mom’s cornbread dressing will be on our plates.  A stress free Thanksgiving?   Probably not, as most of us want to make the best of the holiday with family and friends.  What would a stress free holiday look like?  Perhaps a trip to Las Vegas or the Bahamas.  No preparing the turkey ahead of time or deciding whether you will have pumpkin or pecan pie.  You wouldn’t be wondering which relative would be late for dinner or not show up. Stress free, unless your flight was delayed!

"The First Thanksgiving" (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915),
by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

The first Thanksgiving in 1612 lasted 3 days. There had to be plenty of food for the 53 pilgrims and 90 Indians.  They lived off the land and ocean and did not have the food industry to support them. Instead of wild turkey, they ate duck or goose.  In the New England colony they ate seafood such as clams, mussels and lobster. They ate plenty of vegetables provided by crops and gardens.  The forest provided chestnuts and walnuts. Instead of pumpkin pie they enjoyed boiled pumpkin.  Not a bad meal to feast on and to give thanks for. One of my earliest memories is my mother talking about her mother’s recipe for dressing that included apples, chestnuts, and walnuts.

As the Thanksgiving holiday is a prelude to the holiday season our stress level is on the rise and is defined differently than other times during the year. Studies range from 70 to 80 percent people feeling the stress of the holiday season.

Women are most likely to report feeling stress during the holiday season because they are multi-tasking.  Preparing the house for the holidays, preparing for meals and their everyday stress can lead to disaster.  Many women will fall into bad habits such as overeating, and indulging in too much alcohol. Increased stress often leads to a decreased immune system and by the time the holidays are over women are often exhausted.

decorated Christmas treeAs the Christmas season is around the corner work stress will increase as many families are trying to work overtime to compete with the commercialism of holiday giving.  According to Ronald Nathan, PHD, clinical professor at Albany Medical College in New York a key culprit is our own memories.  He states “When we think about the holidays, we dwell on the past and what went wrong, or we romanticize it and make it impossible to recreate.” ( Web MD, the magazine).  He counsels people to carefully examine their thoughts and expectations and not drive themselves crazy finding “the perfect gift” or planning “the perfect party.”

Here are some tips to reduce your stress during the holidays:

  • Set your priorities: Too much of anything can create stress. Prioritize your activities and do the things you enjoy.
  • Create your holiday:  If your schedules permit, plan as much as you can, from decorating to your holiday meal.
  • Live in the here and now: Don’t worry about the future or fuss about the past.
  • Stay happy and socialized:  Don’t isolate, get together with family and friends or volunteer during the holidays.

Stress is the killer of smiles somewhere in between lies balance.

Let me know what you think or ask me a question by emailing me at squiggylpc@hotmail.com.   Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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