It's Giving Stress-Free: 5 Ways To Manage Stress This Thanksgiving
Food Health and Wellness

It’s Giving Stress-Free: 5 Ways To Manage Stress This Thanksgiving

(Image: iStock / Stígur Már Karlsson / Heimsmyndir)

While #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies captures snapshots of the humorous side of the holiday, some Black folks may find the season stressful.

If the thought of coming together under one roof with your estranged cousins, opinionated aunties, and whimsical uncles stresses you out—breathe, child. Here are five tips for managing stress so your Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t turn into a scene from Soul Food.

Get an early start

If you want to keep your stress levels low this holiday season, aim to get out of bed before everyone else. Take time to gather your thoughts and express gratitude in your own way. This might look like praying, exercising, or making a cup of coffee. Get creative about how you start your day. Try taking a walk, listening to music, etc. An early start will allow you to cook, plan, or even last-minute shop before the madness begins.

Plan entertainment

This might be especially beneficial if you’re on kitchen duty. Unless you’re ordering dishes—no shame if you are—expect hungry family members to crowd around the kitchen before the food is ready. Before you start cooking, place board games out to keep your family entertained. Not many uncles and aunties can resist a good old card game. Leave the remote out or turn on a football game. Take a look at the 2022 Thanksgiving lineup on

Identify your triggers

Never-ending questions about the future, like when you plan to have kids, might trigger you into defensiveness. To keep your stress under control, identify your triggers. For example, are you sensitive when discussing your career? What will you say if you get hit with, “So what do you plan to do after you graduate?” Do questions about marriage make you feel like you’re in the hot seat? Expect your family to approach you with nosy questions like, “Are you still single?” or “Why didn’t you invite your boyfriend/girlfriend?” Prepare yourself by practicing responses ahead of time.

Think before you respond

Sometimes a fight over the last piece of pie has been years in the making. Tension between in-laws, old grudges, and other disagreements are bound to happen. To minimize your stress, think before you respond. If you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, consider if you really mean what you plan to say or you’re just itching to one-up your family member. Think about how you feel when you’re on the receiving end of conflict, and try to remember that what you say in the heat of the moment can stick with someone for a lifetime and leave you full of remorse.

Ask for help

The demands of the holiday season can feel like too much at one time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities, try asking family members for help with tasks. Maybe you’re missing a loved one who passed on and need to talk out your emotions. Get professional help from a therapist or doctor if needed. While the holidays can bring happiness, the season can also stir feelings of sadness and stress. Acknowledge that your feelings are valid and lean on family, friends, or professionals for support.

Now go and enjoy your stress-free Thanksgiving, and remember to save some food for everybody else when you fix your plate.