16 Thanksgiving Self Care Ideas to Manage the Holiday Chaos
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Last Updated on October 7, 2022
Thanksgiving can be bittersweet: on one hand, the holidays are a joyous and family-filled time! But on the other hand, they can be stressful and even a little depressing for some. There’s just A LOT going on!
If Thanksgiving is making you feel overloaded, these Thanksgiving self care ideas will come in clutch to help you manage all the holiday stress and remind you that you DO have it all under control.
A lot of us forget to focus on self care this time of year because we’re juggling a bajillion different things. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas on the horizon, gift shopping, holiday dinner planning…it’s a ton to keep up with and we usually end up neglecting ourselves in the process!
But since you’re here, I’m happy you’ve recognized that you could use a little extra support this season. That’s the first step! Browse through these Thanksgiving self care ideas and make yourself just as big of a priority as all your holiday plans.
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…
- 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
Why is Self Care Important During the Thanksgiving Holiday?
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 is so important as you approach the Thanksgiving holiday. 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!
16 Thanksgiving Self Care Ideas for Stress Relief
Feeling the stress this Thanksgiving? Don’t fret, these Thanksgiving self care ideas will help you keep it all together and prioritize your wellbeing in spite of everything you may have going on! You’ve got this!
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. Set Boundaries
This time of year can make for a little too much interaction and demands from 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!
3. 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!
RELATED: 25 Autumn Journal Prompts to Get Inspired and Reflective
4. 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 is a GAME CHANGER! Sometimes you’re just too stressed 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!
5. Don’t Engage with Difficult Family Members
If your family gatherings are completely free of drama, consider yourself lucky! Unfortunately for a lot of us, there’s always at least one person that clashes with everyone else. If this rings a bell, it helps to go into the gathering with a plan in mind.
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.
6. Make Time for Holiday Activities You Enjoy
This Thanksgiving self care idea is SO important. If you’re the one responsible for prepping for a gathering, you probably haven’t dedicated much time to the things you love!
Sipping a pumpkin spice latte in front of a warm fire, taking a crisp fall walk alone, or going to a pumpkin patch with a friend…whatever holiday fun you love, get out there and do it!
RELATED: 30 Days of November Affirmations for a Daily Dose of Positivity
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!
8. Connect With Others
Thanksgiving is all about connecting with your loved ones. But that doesn’t just have to be the people most accessible to you. Take the time to connect with anyone you care about, near or far! We’re so blessed to live in the age of technology where our far-away friends are just a FaceTime call away.
Sometimes our friends and family are spread out all over the map. So definitely plan a little extra time to give them a call, or even include them over Zoom at your Thanksgiving dinner!
9. 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 holiday 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.
RELATED: 35 Fall Self Care Ideas to Stay Cozy and Happy
10. 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!)
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. 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!
13. 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!
RELATED: 60 Thanksgiving Journal Prompts for Adults to Celebrate the Season
14. Reach Out For Support
Thanksgiving can be a tough time for some people. Because it’s such a family-oriented holiday, feelings of grief from losing family members can come up. If you’re feeling grief extra heavy this year, don’t hesitate to reach out to people you can confide in. We all need to lean on each other for Thanksgiving self care!
15. Give to Others
Another important component of Thanksgiving is giving to others. 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!
16. 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!
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)
More Fall Self Care Posts You’ll Love
60 Thanksgiving Journal Prompts for Adults to Celebrate the Season
35 Fall Self Care Ideas to Stay Cozy and Happy
25 Autumn Journal Prompts to Get Inspired and Reflective
30 Days of November Affirmations for a Daily Dose of Positivity
70 Halloween Self Care Ideas for a Feel-Good Spooky Season