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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Thanksgiving Stress—And Stress Relief

By November 21, 2013

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For many people, one of the more stressful aspects of the holiday season--starting with Thanksgiving--is deciding how to celebrate. More specifically, deciding with whom to celebrate. For some people, it's an easy decision. But for others, there are questions: which partner's family should you see for which holiday? Should you go to relatives' homes, have everyone to yours, celebrate with friends, or just stick with your household? Blended families have more of these choices. Getting through these decisions and simply enjoying the holiday to the fullest is what we all want; letting stress ruin a good holiday happens more than it should, but having a plan and getting on with the celebrations can help a lot. For some people, that plan includes splitting holidays among different households--going to one location one year, and another one the next. Others choose to celebrate certain holidays at specific places each year. Yet other families choose to always stay home and invite whomever wants to show up. Still others just wait and see what strikes their fancy each year when the time comes. There are benefits to each type of plan, and agreeing on a plan and then focusing your attention on experiencing the joy of the holiday can work much better than waiting and second-guessing, or arguing about the choices each year.

And once it's decided with whom to celebrate, there's the issue of the menu and activities. In order to reduce stress, should you go as simple as you can with the meal--to the point of canned gravy and mashed potatoes from a box, or should you do the Martha Stewart spread and put hours into making it special / fancy? Some people relish the fanciness of the occasion and enjoy going all-out. Others keep things simple, even incorporating a pot-luck angle. Some even go to restaurants, or let the local grocery store cater their meal. Deciding which of all the options maximizes your enjoyment and minimizes stress is much better than going with the option you feel you "should" choose, simply because that's how you've always done it, or you don't want to disappoint anyone.

How much stress should you endure (from travel, cooking and dealing with difficult relatives) for the special moments Thanksgiving brings?

The answers to these questions may be different for everyone, but I can offer you some food for thought here. The following articles can help you make these decisions for Thanksgiving and the rest of the Holiday Season with minimal stress. The main thing to remember is the meaning behind these holidays: love. And here are a few other things to think about.

Elizabeth's Thanksgiving Stress Relief

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