This post contains affiliate links and I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned. Read the full disclosure here.
Last Updated on October 24, 2023
Thanksgiving can be a bittersweet time. It’s a joyful, family-filled holiday, but let’s be real, it can also be a bit stressful and even a tad depressing for some. Totally valid; there’s just A LOT going on!
If you’re feeling the pressure, these Thanksgiving self care ideas have your back! They’ll help you tackle the holiday hustle and remind you that you’ve got it all under control.
We often forget about self care during this time, between Thanksgiving, Christmas, gift shopping, and holiday dinner planning. It’s a lot to handle, and we tend to put ourselves last.
But since you’re here, you’re taking that crucial first step. Explore these Thanksgiving mental health activities, and remember, you’ve got this!
How Can I Practice Self Care During the Thanksgiving Holiday?
If you feel like you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off (or in this case, a turkey! 🦃), you’ve gotta take some time for self care. Carve out some time where you can take a breather and try a few Thanksgiving self care strategies, like…
Self Care Tips for Thanksgiving
- Try deep breathing exercises – this will signal your body to calm down and ease your stress response
- Journal to get all your thoughts and stressors out
- Take some time for yourself away from others
- Do something holiday-related that’s FUN for you
- Organize and prioritize everything you need to get done
16 Thanksgiving Self Care Ideas for Stress Relief
Feeling the stress this Thanksgiving? Don’t fret, these Thanksgiving activities for adults will help you keep it all together and prioritize your mental health in spite of everything you may have going on! You’ve got this!
Don’t lose these Thanksgiving self care ideas! Pin ’em to come back later!
Self Care to Make Thanksgiving Planning Go Smoother
1. Evaluate Your To-Do List and Priorities
It might sound too simple, but writing out all the things you need to do really does make it all feel manageable. If you leave a mental list of tasks floating around in your head, it’s going to be a lot to keep track of!
Instead, just write out everything you need to do for the Thanksgiving holiday. You can do this stream of consciousness style, where you just allow the thoughts to flow and write them down as they come.
Then, order them by number of importance, or in chronological order. Whichever applies best!
2. Be Forgiving If You Fall Out of Your Routine
It’s very possible that you’re having trouble sticking to your normal morning/day/night routines right now. When I have unusually busy days, I end up not sticking to my typical routine and that’s totally okay!
Something’s gotta give somewhere, so it only makes sense that you’re making room for Thanksgiving planning.
So go easy on yourself. You can always get back into your routine once things ease up a bit, but in the meantime, just focus on doing what you need to do! This is a very achievable form of Thanksgiving self care.
3. Make a Thanksgiving Budget
If you’re the Thanksgiving host, it sure can cost a lot to put on a huge Thanksgiving dinner! Make a budget in advance so you don’t wind up with sticker shock after looking at your grocery bill.
If cost is a concern for you, you can also hold a Friendsgiving-type gathering where everyone brings a dish to help contribute!
There’s definitely ways to make Thanksgiving work in a way that’s a little more budget-friendly. (Or, worst case, see if you can be an attendee and NOT a host, haha!)
4. Lean Into What You Can Control
We get most overwhelmed when it feels like everything going on is out of our control. And I won’t lie to you, maybe some things are out of your control right now. Life tends to throw us curve balls when we need them the least!
But for every single thing that’s out of your control right now, there’s probably something that is in your control. Lean into what you can control and manage.
For example, you can’t control the uncertainty of how your disgruntled family member will act at the dinner table. But you can control your response to the situation. And that’s empowering!
5. Check In On Your Mental Health with a Journal
You can probably guess that journaling REALLY is a good act of service for your mental health when you’re stressed. The holidays can easily get overwhelming if you don’t get all your feelings out of your head and onto paper.
If you could use a little support this holiday season, you’ll really appreciate my printable mental health journal!
It will help you make sense of your emotions, reframe negative thoughts, and overcome unhelpful behaviors that hold you back from feeling your best. It truly is a must-have tool to cope with the busy holiday season.
What To Do For Self Care When Alone On Thanksgiving
6. Make Time for Holiday Activities You Enjoy
This Thanksgiving self care idea is SO important. Togetherness is great, but if you’re alone on Thanksgiving, take it as an opportunity to indulge in the holiday joys you love.
Sipping a pumpkin spice latte in front of a warm fire, taking a crisp fall walk alone, or frolicking through a pumpkin patch…whatever fall fun you love, get out there and do it!
7. Make a DIY Self Care Kit & Have it Handy
Having a toolbox of all your go-to self care items that make you feel better in times of stress or loneliness is a GAME CHANGER!
Sometimes you’re just too overwhelmed to even think about what would calm you down. A self care kit takes the thinking out of the equation because you’ve got everything already prepared at your fingertips.
Your Thanksgiving self care kit can include things like…
- Your favorite snack
- A cozy blanket
- A journal to vent in
- A stress ball to squeeze
- And anything else to self-soothe!
If you want a guide on how to make your own self care kit, definitely check out my post on 25 DIY Self Care Kit Ideas That Are Simple & Soothing!
8. Schedule a Therapy Appointment
Let’s be honest: sometimes your mental health can take a hit this time of year. Not just from the busy holidays, but also because we’re approaching winter which means those seasonal affective symptoms can start creeping in!
The best thing you can do is to be proactive. Maintain your mental health right now before everything gets too crazy (or depressing).
Sharing the concerns or negative feelings you’re having right now with a therapist makes a HUGE difference. It’s made a massive difference in my life, and I cannot advocate for therapy enough!
If this season is a rough one for you, I always recommend Online Therapy because it’s a comprehensive, effective online therapy toolkit at an affordable monthly cost. Get 20% off your first month at the link below!
Meditation is especially helpful during the busiest times of the year. November and December are prime times to be incorporating meditation into your routine. It gives you the opportunity to disconnect from everything going on around you and ground yourself in the present moment. This is a great stress reliever!
But if meditation is a challenge for you (and it sure was for me for so many years!) I highly suggest guided meditations. My mind tends to wander a little less when I have someone’s voice guiding me through it all.
My favorite meditation program for beginners is Headspace and they have TONS of meditations for anything you could possibly want to achieve: from focus, to de-stressing, to sleep, they’ve got you covered! Go try them free for 14 days with my link right here!
10. Connect With Others
If you have to be alone on Thanksgiving, you don’t have to be totally alone.
Thank god for technology, because your far-away friends and family are just a FaceTime call away! Take the time to connect with anyone you care about, near or far.
It’s normal for our friends and family to be spread out all over the map. So definitely plan a little extra time to give them a call, or even include them over Zoom as you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner!
11. Give Yourself Time and Space to Feel Your Feelings
Have you ever been so busy that you felt like you literally didn’t have the TIME to cry? I’ve been there! And it’s definitely not where you want to be. You need time and space to process your stressed-out emotions.
This might look like giving yourself time to wind down at night, brain dumping alllllll the emotions out in a journal, or just having a good cry! Allow yourself to release any tension you’re currently holding onto.
12. Start a Gratitude Journal
This is what Thanksgiving is about, after all: giving thanks. I love keeping up a gratitude practice all throughout the year, but if you haven’t done so yet, there’s no better time to start than Thanksgiving!
I’ve made it super easy for you with my printable gratitude journal! This journal will help you implement gratitude morning + nightly and check in with your feelings weekly + monthly. You also get to set gratitude goals and recognize gratitude in ALL areas of your life.
It’s a great way to boost your happiness, shift into a positive mindset, and support your mental health. Grab yourself the gratitude journal below and get into the Thanksgiving spirit!
Thanksgiving Self Care to Deal With Toxic Family Members
13. Don’t Engage with Difficult Family Members
Unfortunately for a lot of us, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the family drama. There’s always at least one person that seems to ruin things for everyone else.
If you can’t outright avoid a family gathering, you can at least go into it with a plan in place.
I recommend planning a strategy for how you’ll respond (or to not respond!) when difficult family members start speaking up. You can simply ignore them, change the subject, walk away, or whatever you think will protect you from being drained by them.
More often than not, it’s better to simply not engage.
14. Set Boundaries
This is probably THE most important part of Thanksgiving self care.
This time of year can make for a little too much interaction and demands from toxic family members. If you feel like you’re being stretched too thin not only by everything you need to do, but by everyone around you, you’ve got to identify and get firm on your boundaries.
It’s not realistic to say “yes” to everything. It’s not practical to be a people-pleaser with everyone. You really have to recognize your limits and what you can realistically take on during the holidays.
Don’t be afraid to assert yourself and protect your energy so that you can function your best this Thanksgiving!
15. Reach Out For Support
Thanksgiving can be a tough time for some people. Because it’s such a family-oriented holiday, you could be feeling the grief of lost family members, or feeling the tension of dealing with toxic family members.
If Thanksgiving is bringing up uncomfortable feelings, don’t hesitate to reach out to the healthy people in your life that you can confide in. We all need to lean on each other for Thanksgiving self care!
16. Give to Others
Don’t let negative family members drag you down to the point of isolating yourself. Instead, give your energy and compassion to others who deserve it. It’ll serve as a reminder that good people do exist!
You can donate to charity, cook a meal for someone you love, or even lend a listening ear to a friend who’s struggling. You don’t need to make a grand expensive gesture to make your “giving” worthwhile. Any act of giving is a valid one, no matter how small!
Why is Self Care Important During the Holidays?
Holidays can be fun, but they also come with a lot of chaos! There is just so much going on, and if by chance you’re the one organizing any type of Thanksgiving get-together, you’re probably a little stressed! And rightfully so.
This is precisely why self care during Thanksgiving is so important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the items on your to-do list, but you don’t want your mental wellbeing to suffer as a result of not including self care in your schedule.
Taking even just half an hour for a soothing Thanksgiving self care activity will help you regroup, feel at ease, and actually even better prepared to tackle all the holiday festivities!
Are There Quick Self-Care Rituals for a Busy Thanksgiving Day?
When the holiday chaos hits, finding time for self-care might feel like mission impossible. But don’t worry, you can still sneak in moments of self care even on the craziest of Thanksgiving days!
Here’s a super quick Thanksgiving self care routine:
- Mini meditation – gift yourself a simple 5 minutes of peace on Thanksgiving morning by doing a short meditation. All you need is a quiet corner where you can center yourself with some deep, replenishing breaths.
- Speedy gratitude – set a timer for 5 minutes and write down as many things you’re grateful for as possible before the timer runs out!
- Sip on something you love – whether you’re cooking or just relaxing, take today to sip mindfully on your favorite fall drink as you go about your day.
These 3 things are enough to give you the Thanksgiving self care you deserve on a tight schedule!
Take care of yourself out there! 🧡
Additional Resources for Thanksgiving Self Care
- 10 Stress Relief Tips to Get You Through the Holidays: Self Care for Caregivers – DailyCaring (dailycaring.com)
- Self-care on Thanksgiving – California State University, Northridge – College of Education – (csun.edu)
- The Importance of Self-Care During the Holidays – The Recovery Village – (therecoveryvillage.com)
- Self-Care for the Holiday Season – Psychology Today – (psychologytoday.com)