The holidays should be a joyful time for making memories with the people who mean the most to you. But if you host your family’s annual Thanksgiving dinner, there’s a good chance you spend more time stressing out and working than enjoying time with your guests each year. Take a vow to make this year different. These five tips will help you achieve a stress-free, healthy Thanksgiving.
1: Plan Your Day for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
A lot of holiday stress can be avoided just by having a good plan. For example, if you don’t like getting up early to start cooking, plan your dinner later in the day. Give yourself some extra time so you can set an unhurried, peaceful tone for the day.
Also, think about who is coming and plan activities for them in advance. Will there be children? Put together an activity bin or arts and crafts project to entertain them before and after dinner. Will there be sports fans? Set up a TV in a side room, along with a channel guide. And create a self-serve drink area away from the bustle of the kitchen to minimize pre-dinner foot traffic.
2: Simplify Your Thanksgiving Menu the Healthy Way
For many of us, holidays revolve around food — and lots of it. If you’re making dinner for a large group, unless cooking is one of your favorite pastimes, all that cooking can be stressful. Take some of that pressure off yourself with these tips:
- Keep it simple - Focus on fresh, natural foods that are in season instead of following complicated recipes or serving up processed foods. Simple doesn’t mean boring. There are plenty of recipes that need only a few ingredients. Try one of these delicious, healthy Thanksgiving stuffing recipes.
- Prep ahead of time - Avoid a last-minute rush by prepping ingredients in advance. Do all of your washing, chopping and measuring the day before. Store pre-measured ingredients in reusable containers that are labeled and ready to go. Another benefit of prepping early is that you don’t have to worry about realizing you’re missing an ingredient when stores are closed
- Make it a potluck - Score some stress-less bonus points by getting your family and friends involved and making your Thanksgiving dinner a potluck. Challenge each of your guests to bring a healthy side dish or dessert, so you can focus on making an awesome main dish.
3: Keep Your Thanksgiving Guest List Short
More isn’t always merrier. More guests mean more to cook, more to clean up and more distractions from spending time with the people who mean the most to you. If you can, try to keep your Thanksgiving guest list limited to close family and friends. Aim for 10 people or less. However, if you can’t trim down your guest list, consider making your dinner a potluck so everyone pitches in a little on the work.
4: Don’t Let Black Friday Shopping Stress You Out
It may be tempting to move right on to the next holiday after the leftovers have been put away, but how about enjoying the moment instead? Getting up at sunrise to stand in lines or brave crowds and cold weather isn’t exactly stress-free. Wouldn’t it be nicer to stay in where it’s warm and less crowded? Make the day after Thanksgiving a day to relax and recover, or plan some family activities indoors. If you want to get some shopping done that day — there will be plenty of deals online Friday, plus all weekend and on Cyber Monday.
5: Take Care of Yourself During the Holidays
For many of you, the holiday season means spending a lot of time taking care of other things and zero time taking care of yourself. You might feel like you are more productive that way, but making time for yourself will make the rest of those holiday chores easier to tackle.
While you’re busy planning your Thanksgiving week, schedule some down time and stick to it. Make time to do something that recharges you, whether that’s a relaxing soak in the bath, some quiet time with an inspirational book and a cup of herbal tea, or just a refreshing walk outside.
The best gift you can give your family this year is to take care of yourself because then you’ll have more energy and joy to share with the people you love.
Protect Yourself from the Damages of Holiday Stress
Stress can take a toll on your body and its defenses. Give yourself some extra insulation against holiday stress with these supportive supplements.
- Vitamin C for Immune Support – Your immune system needs vitamin C for optimal performance,1 and vitamin C and B-complex vitamins are in high demand during stressful times. Replenish the nutrients your body loses with Swanson Health’s Super Stress Vitamin B-Complex with Vitamin C.
- Probiotics for Digestive Health – Digestive issues often accompany stress.2 Get ahead of potential gut problems with our premium probiotic supplements. If you're not sure where to start with probiotics, take our quiz: How to Choose the Probiotic That’s Best for You.
- Magnesium to Promote Calm – Magnesium is a mineral that has been called the “the original chill pill,” because it supports your body in ways that helps suppress the release of stress hormones.3 Magnesium also provides support for the functioning of the nervous system, and it’s essential for strong muscles, bones and cardiovascular health.*
Sign up for more healthy tips and deals from Swanson Health Products. You’ll get helpful articles just like this one delivered straight to your inbox, along with special promotions.
About Lindsey Bristol, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.
Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health Products.
1 Vitamin C and immune function: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19263912 (Accessed 11/14/2017)
2 Stress, Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/stress-anxiety-ibs#1 (Accessed 11/14/2017)
3 Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill: Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201106/magnesium-and-the-brain-the-original-chill-pill (Accessed 11/14/2017)