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Thanksgiving is upon us and while we often embrace the opportunity to unapologetically overindulge on turkey, potatoes, pumpkin pie and the rest, we also struggle with perhaps the most challenging aspect to the beginning of this holiday season…coping with the stress of spending time with our relatives.


Many of us feel it.  That realization that all the baggage of your childhood is about to show up at your front door, roam around your house for hours and potentially use the opportunity to critique every choice you’ve ever made.  Or what about the in-laws?  You know those people who we are indefinitely linked to by “law” and who judge us for not having kids or living too far away or just generally corrupting their “perfect child”.


So how do we do it?  How do we get through this time without finishing off a bottle of vodka?


A good way to start is by trying not to beat yourself up.  Your thoughts and frustrations are completely valid.   You are not a bad person for finding these circumstances difficult and if you start berating yourself for your feelings you are doing the same thing to yourself you fear your family will do to you.  This can be a tough time even for people who love (and get along with) every member of their immediate and extended families.  If there is the slightest crack in your family armor the intensity of the holidays will magnify it.  So give yourself a break.


Next, focus on caring for yourself. Eat the foods that keep you energized and well nourished remembering that overeating (or drinking) will only prove to feed your irritation and block your ability to deal with the stress.  It’s terribly difficult to think clearly when your body has to work overtime to digest an excess of green bean casserole. 


Try not to give up on your exercise routine.  Even if you only go for a short walk every other day, it keeps your blood flowing and the oxygen moving to your brain.  That’s very important when you are working to keep things in perspective.  As a side note slipping out the back door for a quick walk around the block or a breath of fresh air is always helpful when the family gets tense.


Don’t forget to spend quality time on your talents. Do things that make you uniquely you. Carve out (no pun intended) time to be alone to do the things that remind you of what an amazing, intelligent, creative person you are.  And don’t apologize for wanting private time.  Everyone needs those precious moments to clear his or her head. If you spend good quality time with yourself it will be easier to remember what a great person you are when your dad is telling you the turkey is dry.


Most importantly remember that these insane people sitting beside you at your holiday table have helped to make you stronger than you’ll ever know and that’s worth being thankful for.


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