Surviving Thanksgiving and Maintaining Your Sanity
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Surviving Thanksgiving: 6 Helpful Tips

For many people, surviving Thanksgiving, year after year, becomes more difficult. Feelings of and pain and anxiety are not new around the holidays. If this is you, you are not alone. It is upsetting that holiday self-care and survival tips are not talked about more often, when everyone knows that the holidays are difficult.

Thankfully, I am here to help you out with the 6 things you need to survive the holidays. It is so important to remember that creating a survival plan for the holidays are just as important as the other preparations that we are making.

1. Make A “Surviving Thanksgiving” Plan

All holidays require a plan. Some people like to keep their plan in their head. I challenge you write it out. Once it is written, we are more likely to get it done.

In your plan, it is important to incorporate the following

Your ultimate goal for Surviving Thanksgiving
What is your ultimate goal for surviving Thanksgiving this year? Do you want to eat? have fun? enjoy the food? Bring the family together?

What could possibly hinder your goal?
Is there a horrible uncle that makes jokes about mental health or that are bit rape-y and their entire presence could turn your day around? Jot that down.

How you will prevent the hindrance of your goal?
Then, I want you to plan out EXACTLY, how you will deal with this person. Will you not invite him, will you stay away from him? Will you call him out?

How your goal will be carried out to completion?

Precisely from start to finish? What are you going to do in order to complete your goal?

What is your coping skill/ Self care activity for when you get overwhelmed?

What will you do when you get overwhelmed? Will you take a walk? Put on your headphones? Go for a drive? Take the dog for a walk?

2. Set Boundaries

This NOvember, so “No” is the word to remember, and say it as often as you need to. There may be 100 little gatherings, and everyone you know may be having a party. You are by no means required to attend every event that everyone is having. In fact, you are not obligated to attend ANY of them. Surviving Thanksgiving, for you, may mean saying “no” to all of the events and staying home alone to get some peace. You get to decide what you want to do, so set firm boundaries and enforce them.

3. Be With The People Who You Are Thankful For

Let’s be real for a moment: Some relatives, we could live without. Some, we are so far from thankful for. You are not required to sit around a table with these people, pretending to be thankful for them, especially if they were at any time manipulative or abusive.

Go be with your friends! At the end of the day, family are the people who are loyal to you. Relatives are the people who share your blood. Thanksgiving is about FAMILY! And believe it or not, we have a choice in who becomes FAMILY! So yes, friends can be family and you are better off spending time with them than with toxic relatives

4. Put Your Needs First

The holidays are a time of joy, but also pain. Sometimes, they bring up good memories, but sometimes they bring up painful hurt and traumas from our past. This could be the first year a special family member will not be attending Thanksgiving Dinner.

If this year is hard for you for any reason, and you feel like you need to take a time out, please do it! Do not attend that dinner, and do not pretend to be fine when what you really need to do is be alone and cry.

This is just an example, but whatever your need is, make sure that you take care of it and put it first. Remember that you cannot help anyone else, until your personal mental health is taken care of.

5. De-stress

As discussed, Thanksgiving can bring on strong emotions. Release them!

I suggest you find what you enjoy and express yourself doing that activity. If you like basketball, grab your cousins and go outside and dribble the ball around. Don’t have a hoop? Grab an empty (CLEAN) garbage can and make that your hoop.

If you like to sing, start the karaoke up. If you like to dance, get the electric slide or cha-cha-slide going! Whatever you need to do to destress, Do it! Surviving Thanksgiving depends on you lowering your stress levels

6. Respect YOUR Traditions

The holidays are about traditions, but you are welcome to create new ones! Your journey is uniquely yours. It’s not going to look like the person’s next to you. You are more than welcomed than to change any tradition you do not like or that you think is absurd. 

Surviving Thanksgiving may not even ultimately be your goal this year. Ditching Thanksgiving and creating new traditions may be your goal. Whatever it is, respect YOUR traditions, new and/or old.

Final Thoughts

Surviving Thanksgiving is about taking care of yourself, your needs and having fun. The holidays are meant to be filled with love and cheer, if it is not filled with those things, please reevaluate your traditions and work on creating new ones that will make you happy and satisy your emotional needs.

Mish is a millennial and a social worker. She currently holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) and is in the process of obtaining her Doctor of Social Work (DSW). She currently works as a Case Manager and has previously provided Intensive In-Home Therapeutic Services. Though therapy remains a passion, she learned that it could be very rigid and some people really just need Coaching. With this, she started a mental wellness coaching program. You can learn more about that here:

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