Does the Thanksgiving weekend bring memories of fun times with family, playing football outside in the crunchy leaves and shopping until you drop? Or is it more like a nightmare of tipsy relatives bickering and complaining? Does preparing the Thanksgiving meal give you enjoyment or is a herculean task that has you stressed from Halloween on?

Welcome to the holidays. A time of family, friends, and food and all of the feelings they bring with them. For some families, Thanksgiving is the first in a string of stressful events that doesn’t let up until after New Year’s Day. If that sounds like you, here are a few tips to reduce the Thanksgiving stress and get ready for the rest of the holiday season.

  1. Ask for help. If you are the chief cook and bottle washer at Thanksgiving, make this the year that you refuse to go it alone. Have a pot luck turkey day with everyone bringing a dish, or go to the grocery store and order a pre-cooked dinner. Or, eliminate dishes that you often make but aren’t critical to your Thanksgiving feast. Simplifying the menu cuts down on your workload and asking for help before, during and after the dinner will make others feel useful and part of the day.
  2. Use assigned seating. Everyone knows that Uncle Tim and Uncle Joe don’t get along, so be prepared by assigning seating and put them at opposite ends of the table. Ask the kids to make place cards on paper leaf cut outs or folded index cards and decorate them with glitter, stickers, etc.
  3. Do as much as you can in advance. Many desserts can be made ahead as well as some side dishes, especially salads, hors d’oeuvres or relishes. Set the table ahead of time and make a list of the things you need to do on Thanksgiving day and plan out when each thing needs to go in the oven or microwave. Having a plan will help keep the chaos under control.
  4. Stay healthy! Get plenty of sleep and eat well. Wash your hands frequently to avoid germs, especially when you have been handling food. Keep your exercise routine going and find ways to de-stress such as yoga or meditation, or just reading a favorite book.
  5. Not cooking? Jump in and help someone else by offering to cook, clean up afterwards, or take care of decorations. They will appreciate the help and you’ll feel better, too.

If you need counseling or help dealing with stress, call Clay Behavioral Health Center at 904.291.5561, or walk in to our 3292 County Road 220 location Monday – Friday any time between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.. No appointment is necessary.

Clay Behavioral Health Center provides mental health and substance abuse treatment, education and prevention for Clay County, FL residents. For more information, call 904.291.5561.

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