Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away! For many, the holiday means extended family, grateful hearts, turkey and pumpkin pie. Before you know it, it will be next Thursday. Your hours of preparations in the kitchen will be but a vapor. Your family will gather around the table and you’ll collapse into your chair, suddenly wondering if you remembered to turn the oven off.

Maybe you’ll spend several days preparing ahead of the celebration. Do you worry you’ll forget something? Or do you worry that the day might not be all you hope it will be? As much as we look forward to it, Thanksgiving can cause us to feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. There are several things you can do to lighten your load, enjoy the day, and put the ‘Happy’ back in Thanksgiving.

1. Review your expectations and keep it in perspective

Are you realistically looking at the holiday or are you building it up in a way that will only leave you disappointed? Keep your expectations in check and put the day in perspective. Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for all that you have and to share it with family or friends. Enjoy what you have with those you have to enjoy it with. Let anything else be a bonus, not an expectation.

2. Set boundaries.

We continue to live in a politically charged society. If you know you don’t see eye to eye with your Uncle Matt on politics, don’t bring up politics across the Thanksgiving table. Taboo topics aren’t limited to politics. Be aware of what “that” topic is for your family. Let your family know that subject is off limits. If someone brings up a taboo topic, be ready to redirect. Remember – You don’t have to go to every argument you are invited to.

3. Remember, it’s not about you

“This turkey is a little dry” your Aunt Sarah criticizes bringing the table conversation to a hush. You’ve worked so hard to pull together the dinner and just want to cry. Even if Aunt Sarah is always the one with the critical tongue, it can sting when the words hit you. Don’t take it personally! Your value isn’t based on what she thinks of your cooking. And, in the end, Thanksgiving isn’t about the food. Pass her the gravy or pour her some punch. Even if you burn the entire meal, or the turkey is dry, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure! Refuse to take comments about the meal to heart as criticisms of your worth.

4. Have a plan

Depending on how challenging your family may be for you, it may make sense to have a plan to keep yourself emotionally in a good or safe place. Know when you’ve had enough and need to remove yourself from a conversation, retreat to a different room, and recognize when its time to head home. When you need to regroup, go for a walk, or go play with the kids. Be conscious of your “meter” and when it’s time to recharge or step away.

5. Remember why you are celebrating!

Be thankful for the big things that have made a difference in your life this year… and be sure to remember the little things too. Treasure the time together. It’s a gift. Share a smile.Play a game, do a puzzle together, or reminisce. Let the world slow down and just “be” with those you love. Visit, laugh, enjoy!

It’s your turn

As you look ahead to Thanksgiving, what are you looking forward to the most? What tricks do you have to keep your stress down while focusing on what matters most?  Or, will you be putting any of these ideas to use? I’d love to hear from you. Comment to join the conversation.

However you plan to spend Thanksgiving, I wish the best to you and your family!

Until next time friends, be blessed!