Thanksgiving is traditionally a day to eat delicious comfort food, watch football, and spend time with family. However, sometimes this day produces uncomfortable feelings or situations. Perhaps you have a complicated relationship with food, or perhaps your extended family makes you feel angry. Maybe you are hosting and want to make sure everything is perfect, or maybe you spend half the day traveling to see both your side and your partner’s side of the family. All these scenarios can take the relaxing and enjoyable parts out of Thanksgiving.
One way to alleviate some of the possible holiday anxiety is by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially a process of reflection, grounding, and centering yourself; it allows you to access the present moment. Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. Here are some examples of what mindfulness may look like on Thanksgiving:
- If you are struggling with food and feel afraid of eating too much, engage all the senses while you eat. Eat slowly and thoughtfully while savoring every bite. Honor your body’s hunger and remember that it is okay to enjoy food.
- If you are struggling with your extended family and feel angry with them at any point (example: differences in political views or invasive questions about your personal life), practice normalizing your anger. See if you can be compassionate with yourself and your anger. What happens if you approach it with warmth and care? Allow yourself to step away if you need to.
- If you are struggling with the need to be perfect and feel overwhelmed, aim for 80 percent. When you demand 100 percent from yourself, you may feel stuck or burnt out. When you accept good enough, you may even end up doing better than 80 percent. If you took perfection out of the equation, what would your day be like? Consider journaling about this and getting those ideas on paper.
- If you are struggling with busy holiday plans and feel stressed, practice deep breathing exercises. This will help you relax and collect your thoughts.
Ultimately, the goal is to engage mindfulness in order to practice gratitude. After all, this is what Thanksgiving is all about! Tell us; what are you thankful for?
Crutcher, E. (2020, November 25). A mindful approach to thanksgiving. LA Weekly. https://www.laweekly.com/a-mindful-approach-to-thanksgiving
Cullen, M. (2021, November 2). Mindfulness of Anger. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-of-anger/
K.C.Y.H. (n.d.). Mindfulness and perfectionism: A guide to getting unstuck. Kripalu. https://kripalu.org/resources/mindfulness-and-perfectionism-guide-getting-unstuck
If you would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics, such as the one featured in this blog, and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.
Written by Liz, Mental Health Counseling Master’s Level Intern