Gratitude and doing something for someone else are the two most important things you can do the improve your mental health, according to research. That sums up Thanksgiving dinner. But issues can arise when we are with a person we do not get along with.
Below are a few ways to reduce stress to help make Thanksgiving a time of gratitude.
First, looking for help with the meal can really help. A good plan can reduce stress. A plan for how to be with dinner guests you may find hard to be with is good as well. For example, where do you seat them? Can you be busy in the kitchen if they are going on about the last trip they took for hours? Making a list of things you value about people that are difficult also helps. If we focus on the bad we will see the bad. Focusing on the good raises the chances of seeing the good. It depends on the window we look out of.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a great way to learn how to see the good. It is a way of training the mind to deal with stress. It does not mean always being happy. Having a family member in your life that is exasperating is not fun. That reality may never change. The family member may be at every family event. This is something that needs to be accepted. Not that we are to become doormats, but sticking up for ourselves in a planned way is important. Mental health professionals can help prepare for such events by planning scripted messages. They may be very short like, “When you call me fat I feel hurt.” Messages like this need to be delivered at just the right time and in the right tone. That is why discussing them and planning them before hand works.
We cannot choose our family, but we can choose to try to see the good in them.
The exercise of finding the good can be very hard. It can dredge up strong emotion. Yet what good is it looking at the bad all the time. Our view needs to be balanced.
Expectations are also something that can cause stress. We expect people to act a certain way or do certain things, such as come on time for the meal or bring what they said they would bring.
We need to have balanced expectations. We need to appreciate and help
Putting on a great meal is a wonderful, creative thing to do. Let’s value the experience. Letting go of the pressures of the day is not easy but it can be done.
Thanksgiving is an event that builds families and makes memories. It keeps people in a zone that builds mental health. We can deal with the stress associated to Thanksgiving by creating a good plan and decreasing our expectations. Peering out the window to see the good is so critical every day. So let’s make it count on Thanksgiving Day.