Healthy Ways to Handle the Stress of Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving happening this week, the countdown has begun for just about all of us. Travel, cooking, cleaning, shopping, preparing – the list goes on and on. With not enough hours in the day to get it all done, I’m certainly feeling the pinch of stress, and I’m sure that you are as well. In my quest to get it all done, I’ve been known to drink more coffee, stay up much too late and rely on convenience foods that are higher in fat and calories. The more I try to do, the more frazzled I become and the less that I actually accomplish. By the end of the holiday season, I find that my weight is up and my nerves are shot. What’s a girl to do?

Instead of turning to extreme amounts of caffeine and giving up on sleep, try these great stress busting techniques to help you relax.

  • Make a list. Sure, it sounds trite – and you may already have sticky notes piled around your house with reminders to do lots of stuff, but take 20 minutes and make a detailed list for each of the next days. Jot down everything that you need or want to do. It may seem overwhelming to see it all in print, but by writing it down, you have cleared your mind of the “must remembers” and the “have to’s”. Follow the list and don’t worry about forgetting anything.
  • Get enough sleep. No matter what you have to do at night, set an alarm and when it goes off, stop what you are doing. Take a warm bath and get to bed. Count back from the time you need to get up at least 8 hours, and plant yourself in your bed.
  • Having trouble sleeping? Keep a notepad by your bed to journal any late night ideas or chores. This way, you won’t forget them, and knowing that you’ve written them down will help to keep it off your mind. Practice deep belly breathing and visualize yourself in a happy place.
  • Avoid the trap of over caffeination. Instead of reaching for your coffee and energy drinks, quench your thirst with lots of water. Find water boring? Add some fruit slices or even a bit of juice. You’ll feel far less fuzzy brained and clear and level headed with no caffeine headache.
  • Just say NO. This one is tough for many of us, but it is absolutely vital. You do not have to do everything that is asked of you, and it is tremendously freeing to say no. Use the time that you would have spent making 24 dozen cookies or driving your Aunt Sally to the store to take care of the next item…
  • Don’t skimp on the exercise. One of the greatest stress busters ever is exercise. Lace up your shoes and take a walk around the block. Bundle up if it’s cold, but being outside is an amazing energizer. Pop in a Wii game – I’m pretty partial to Just Dance 2 myself! – or hop on your bike. If you don’t have an hour, spend 15 minutes four times a day getting your heart rate up. Exercise clears your mind and will help you have more energy.
  • Prepare foods that you can grab and eat quickly so that you can avoid the drive thru. Steam several chicken breasts. It takes the same amount of time as one, and this way, you have multiple meals covered. Pack up almonds in small containers and stash them in your pocketbook, along with a couple of HFCS-free granola bars. Make salads for the next couple of days and pop them in the refrigerator. Make sure you have fruits that are ready to go and convenient to grab, such as apples or pears, or individual bags of grapes. Cut some low fat cheese and pair it with whole wheat crackers for a delicious afternoon snack.

Don’t let stress take a toll on your body and enjoy your holiday!

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