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How can I protect my mental health at Thanksgiving?

Happy day-people-randomly-eat-turkey-on! We know the holidays can be tough. They can be awesome, sure, but they can also tend to bring up some lousy feelings.

Group of friends having dinner outdoors

While everyone celebrates Thanksgiving this year and talks about how perfect everything is, remember this: it’s okay to share that maybe, for you, it’s not.

We’ve come up with a few tips to help you with your mental health at Thanksgiving and to make your holiday season a little easier to get through.

1. It’s your holiday too

Take some time for yourself. Yes yes, we know that the holidays are about family and friends but we think you are the most important thing so what do you love to do? What makes you smile? Block out some time just for you.

Taking a step away from the festivities and using some of this holiday time to make time for yourself can be a great way of keeping yourself on track. It’s also a good time to do some of those things that you’ve been wanting to do for a while but just haven’t got around to.

It could be reading a new book, having a bit of a non-seasonal spring clean, starting to learn a new skill, practicing a new recipe, refreshing your music collection, or binge-watching your favorite films!

Just make sure that Thanksgiving gives you a bit of a holiday too. You need breaks for your mental health, and Thanksgiving should give you just that. It's easy to get caught up in trying to make everyone happy but it's not selfish to also focus on making you happy too, in fact, we insist you do this!

2. Take it in small doses

Holidays are fantastic at throwing routine out of the window and actually, if you’re anything like us, routine is super important and helps provide much-needed structure to our days.

Trying to work some kind of routine into your holiday periods can help to take away that feeling of endless time, boredom or just not quite knowing what to do with yourself. So try and make some time to schedule the parts of your normal life that support you day to day.

Whether that’s exercise, eating, self-care, or something different – keep a routine to protect your mental health at Thanksgiving. It can be hard when services shut down for a few days but see if you can find places that are still open to visit during this time.

Just because Thanksgiving is upon us doesn’t mean normal life has to just stop. Eat breakfast, exercise, listen to music, watch films, read books, and take a break from turkey!

3. Don’t set expectations too high

For most of us, Thanksgiving means spending time with family; and for many of us that isn’t always especially easy. Family relationships can be difficult at the best of times and throwing an overhyped occasion into the mix can turn challenging relationships into full-blown fireworks.

There is also often an expectation that you will have an incredible time over the holidays and that pressure can cause family tensions to rise too. Remember, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holiday won't magically change people.

Just because it is Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean your mother will suddenly because the person you’ve always hoped she would or that your relationship with your brother will be fixed, or that your family will suddenly resemble a picture-perfect holiday scene.

It sadly doesn’t work like that and actually, reminding yourself of this and making peace with it can be helpful to protect your mental health at Thanksgiving. And just because your family and friends might not be perfect doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to appreciate your time with them.

Have a think about whether there is anything you can do to prepare for this time or make it easier. Are there familiar patterns or things that happen with your family that you could avoid?

4. Connect with your community

For some, Thanksgiving can feel a little lonely. If you could use a little support on Turkey Day, TalkLife is a great place where you can share your thoughts, ramblings, and feelings, and meet a person or two that might just be able to give you a smile you didn’t see coming.

It’s cheesy, but we’re all better together, and sharing your feelings can make a world of difference. Like, the kind of difference where you don’t feel bad about stuff and realize everything can actually be sorta great today or tomorrow or whenever.

Just know that the folks at TalkLife (and the whole community on it) are here for you 24/7, whether it’s a weird holiday where we eat turkeys or a Tuesday where we’re all just sort of bored. We're here to help you with your mental health at Thanksgiving and beyond!

No matter what day it is, we could all use a little support every now and again. That’s why we made this thing. To remind everyone that people are great and here to help each other out. Because no one’s got it easy!

5. Share how you're feeling

Don’t bottle it up. Whether you talk to friends or family, write it down in a diary or share it on TalkLife. It’s okay to find these times hard and to need to share them with someone.

It’s good to talk about how you’re feeling, especially if you are struggling with your mental health at Thanksgiving and are feeling anxious or depressed. It might also help someone else to open up about how they’re feeling too.

All too often we can put on facades and to the outside world it can seem like we’re having the time of our lives when really, inside we’re struggling to cope, feeling anxious, and battling depression. This can make us feel more detached and isolated from the world as we’re not being real and splitting our how we feel internally with how we show the world we’re feeling.

Feeling split is really hard and can cause feelings to spiral. Similarly, by pretending things are okay when they’re not we feed into a society that is based around perception and people feeling they need to be a certain way. By being more authentic we can not only feel better about ourselves but help contribute to a way of being that is more real and hopefully fosters more support.

Protect your mental health at Thanksgiving

Remember that however the next few days go for you we are here with you each step of the way so keep us posted, don’t hesitate to ask for support, and make sure you take a moment for yourself. Your mental health and your feelings are so important so don’t battle with them alone.


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