Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving without the Anxiety

For many people Thankgiving means family, friends, food- with a good helping of complicated relationships and emotional upheval on the side! No one is immune from the awkward encounter, running into ex's, or buried family drama.

But why spoil a good meal, and a good time, when there are ways to take control of all inner turmoil.

Here are some tips from Oprah (who else?) on having a stress free Thanksgiving!

Be Yourself
Instead of trying to be who you think you "should" be with your family, friends, in-laws or guests, just relax and be yourself! So often we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be a certain way, impress people (even those we know well) or say the things we think others want to hear.

Choose to Focus on the Good Stuff
Make a commitment to focus on the things you like and appreciate about your friends and family members, instead of obsessing about the things that annoy or upset you. We almost always find what we look for in others and situations.

Make It Fun and Easy
Do whatever you can for yourself and those around you to make the planning, food preparation, cleanup and whole Thanksgiving experience as easy, fun and stress-free as possible. This means we keep it light, share the responsibilities, ask others for help and do the things that we enjoy—instead of burdening ourselves and feeling like a victim.

Express Your Appreciation For Others
One of best things we can do for other people (on Thanksgiving, or at any time) is to let them know what we appreciate about them in a genuine way. Acknowledging others is a true win-win, as we always get to keep what we give away when we appreciate them (i.e. the good feelings are shared by us and those we acknowledge). There are many ways we can appreciate people on Thanksgiving, including:

  • Write "I'm thankful for you" cards and give them out on Thanksgiving (or mail them beforehand).
  • Pick someone at the dinner table to acknowledge, and then ask them to "pay it forward" and appreciate someone else in the group. Go around until everyone has been appreciated.
  • Pull people aside on Thanksgiving (or give them a call) and let them know what you appreciate about them specifically and genuinely.

Count Your Blessings
Remember that amid all the commotion, stress and activity of the holiday season, Thanksgiving really is a time for us to reflect on what we're grateful for—in life, about others and especially about ourselves.


Wherever, Whenever- Meditation and OCPD

We live in a hectic world. To my fellow New Yorkers, it seems the dial of chaos in our everyday lives is permanently turned up to 11. For someone who struggles with OCPD and anxiety like myself, this can feel overwhelming at time. Even for the most hardened urbanite, the daily grind can grind you down.

But even when we can't to a spa or sit on a meditation pillow for 30 minutes, we can still center ourselves. The other morning on the train, I was stressed and totally planning my whole day - before it even began. I knew this wouldn't help my mental state, and was a negative way to start the day. So, right there on the subway, I closed my eyes.

Inside, I could focus on my breath. I could come back to myself, and I could see and start to tame my growing hectic anxiety.

We have the tools right inside of us, all the time. We don't need a special retreat- although it always nice - to relax. All we need is our own mental focus.

So next time I'm going out of my head with worry, feeling bombarded by the chaotic world, maybe the key to my mental state is right there, behind my eyelids.


Shame and Illness: Hiding OCPD

The article "Mental Health: The Stigma is Killing Us" from Clutch Online Magazine talks about the shame certain communities can project on various mental illnesses. While I don't really go around thinking of myself as mentally ill, I rarely talk about the medication I"m on, and certainly don't feel comfortable sharing all the details with most people.

A lot of the article deals with the flaws in the treatment of mental health, both in the past and today. Because anxiety is fairly common today, there are lots of options for help. But more serious disorders like schizophrenia often go untreated because the afflicted are scared of the life-changing consequences of treatment.

The article makes the point that we all have mental states that are "Abnormal", and we shouldn't stigmatize anyone who takes the initiative to treat their inner weaknesses.

The author puts it like this:
"In the sense that we lack the knowledge and coping skills to deal with depression, yes, it is a weakness, similar to a skinny guy who is physically weak it comes to the weight room. Some people lack the reps to deal with life’s challenges because not enough time is spent properly discerning symptoms, identifying the root causes and controlling or eliminating the defect."

What do you think? Personally, I like the concept of dealing with mental illnesses not as something definitively scary, but instead a process of growing away from a weakness.