Thanksgiving can a perfect recipe for stress. The holiday is crowded with much to do, and anticipation can set emotions spinning out of control. Expectations for a perfect Thanksgiving feast may be overwhelming. Planning, shopping and preparing command effort and energy. Then there’s the family dinner, which serves up loads of memories and old relationships along with food. Take a deep breath and start now to reduce stress. Here are eight steps you can take to de-stress and enjoy the holiday.

Pace Yourself

Avoiding making plans that require you to multi-task or work at a frantic pace. If you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner, look for dishes you can prepare a day or two in advance. Especially don’t agree to things you don’t want to do or can’t fit into an already-crowded schedule.


Consciously decide to switch off your devices for a period during the holiday. Away from the office over the break, turn off the phone, tablet and laptop for four hours or so each day. You’ll feel calmer when you unplug and indulge in a digital detox.

Share the Holiday Cooking

The point of Thanksgiving is to share time with family and friends you love, not to perfect the fanciest dessert trending on Pinterest. If you are hosting dinner at your place, you don’t have to prepare every single dish, tend bar and decorate the house all by yourself. Ask guests to bring a dish. Get your brother to take charge of the turkey. See if your cousin will create her famous centerpiece. Dividing up the work will allow you to enjoy your guests with less stress.

Be Flexible with Health Regimen

If there’s the tiniest chance you might overeat at the Thanksgiving feast or stay in bed late the next morning without going to the gym, let’s face it: you are human. You will feel guilty, but don’t beat yourself up. You’ll get back on track soon enough. Allow yourself some flexibility during the holidays and don’t get in the way of enjoying your down time.

Plan Your Holiday Shopping

Take the stress out of holiday shopping by devising a backup plan for unexpected guests. There’s no shame in stashing a few generic gifts that could work for anyone. Just give some thought to what you’d like to receive from a giver who is not your nearest and dearest, and you won’t go wrong. If you haven’t already scored the ideal gift for your besties, now is the time to make plans. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your shopping for the ones closest to your heart.

Indulge a Little

It’s surprising how far just a touch of luxury can go to take much of the stress out of the holidays. Make time for a manicure or pedicure. Book an appointment with a spa for a message. If daily chores overwhelm, hire a cleaning service or drop off the laundry. Give yourself some downtime and indulge a little.


Meditating will help you make the adjustment from work to play without even recognizing the transition. If you’ve never tried meditation before, search out the variety of apps that can help you start.

Make a gratitude list.

Expressing gratitude at Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday tradition. It’s a great way to switch from thinking how your glass is half empty to how the glass is half full. This simple change in perspective will get you to think about solving problems instead of worrying about what’s gone wrong.

Read More: A Psychologist Shares Her 8 Easy Steps for Managing Stress