Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays, but everyone knows how stressful it can become. Whether you host the dinner or attend at someone else’s house, there’s pressure on everyone to be amiable and have a fantastic time. That’s hard to do when there are complications like family arguments.
Before you worry about the upcoming holiday, check out how to practice mindfulness during your crazy Thanksgiving dinner. Even if everything goes haywire, you’ll have the tools you need to ground yourself like a pro.
1. Release Your Expectations
Sometimes positive expectations can push you to reach new goals and improve your life. Other times, they set up disasters before they occur. Think about how you approach Thanksgiving dinner and catch any expectations you have for your family and friends.
Even if you only want the night to go well, release that expectation. No matter what happens, your mindfulness will guide you through the ups and downs.
2. Love People as They Are
Your grandmother will likely ask too many personal questions and your uncle might drink too much wine with his turkey. You wish they’d reign in their impulses, but you’re not in control of other people.
Accept your family and friends for who they are. Put your love before their behavior. When you come back to the love that connects everyone in the room, you’ll feel less anger or resentment if things go wrong.
3. Celebrate the Small Successes
Recognize the small successes to start your Thanksgiving with positivity. Celebrate when your family members RSVP after you create a mindful grocery list or triumphantly bake that challenging pumpkin pie recipe.
When you make a point of being more mindful about the positive things in life, a potentially crazy holiday fallout will roll right off your back. It’s a critical part of learning how to practice mindfulness. Start today to get in the habit of looking on the bright side.
4. Practice a Pre-Meal Tradition
Mindfulness incorporates the needs of the people around you. Even if you don’t adhere to any religion, praying or sending kind thoughts before your Thanksgiving dinner is a tremendous kindness. It’s also a reminder of what you’re grateful for and what bonds the people sitting around the table.
If your guests don’t pray, you can always ask them to grant you a moment of silence. Once everyone quiets down, your meditation can include phrases such as:
- We are happy.
- We are safe.
- We are loved.
Remind everyone what you’re celebrating. It never hurts to bring everyone back to a positive place before breaking bread together.
5. Take Deep Breaths
You might still worry about hosting a terrible meal. Family fights or burnt food are at the forefront of your mind. When that happens, what’s left in your toolbox? A couple of deep breaths.
Anyone can become more mindful with deep breathing during a moment of crisis. Fresh air in through your nose and out through your mouth pulls you back to the present. Each breath slows your heart rate if you count a few beats between inhaling and exhaling. A few deep breaths are all you need to conquer whatever problems arise.
6. Prepare Grounding Techniques
In the days before Thanksgiving, prepare helpful grounding techniques that you can use to shut down negative emotions or thoughts. There are three types of these techniques — physical, mental and soothing.
Think about employing tricks like:
- Collecting your thoughts in the bathroom.
- Taking the dog outside.
- Counting backward from 10.
These techniques provide an opportunity to focus on different thoughts, surroundings or sensations. Instead of letting the negative emotions wash over you, you’ll resume control over your mind.
7. Eat an Early Snack
After Thanksgiving dinner begins, don’t rush through your food to hurry the night along. Instead, use mindfulness to transform your meal in two easy ways.
First, eat a small snack before your guests arrive. You won’t charge through dinner if you don’t feel the frustrating urge of hunger.
Second, savor every bite. Cherish the meal by thinking about the flavors and textures in each spoonful. Notice how your drink tastes every time you raise your cup to your lips. Engaging your senses brings you back to the moment so you can enjoy the goodness in even the most hectic dinner.
8. Engage in Conversations
Mindfulness isn’t all about how to handle what’s in your head and heart. It’s also about connecting with the people around you. Although it may seem tempting to tune out your aunt’s story you’ve heard fifteen other times, try to actively engage with her. She’ll talk about how your cousins are doing well in school, but what she wants you to hear is how proud she is of her kids.
Listen to your guests and hear what they’re trying to say. You’ll become more mindful in every conversation and become more connected with your loved ones.
How to Practice Mindfulness: Embrace Gratitude and Gentleness
Thanksgiving is all about being grateful, so you’ll learn how to practice mindfulness by embracing gratitude and gentleness. Extend kindness to yourself and your family to stay aware of everyone’s needs. Give yourself the grace of self-care and patience. As you remember to stay grounded and focused on your mindful intentions, you’ll experience your best Thanksgiving yet.