7 Ways to Cope With Thanksgiving Blues
Tips for when you don't feel thankful or grateful.
Posted November 13, 2022 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
- Studies show that holidays do not always evoke feelings of happiness
- Learning to reframe expectations can reduce holiday-season blues.
- Being authentic is key to finding balance and well-being.
‘Tis the season of gratitude, when the calendar marks the holiday of Thanksgiving, and we gather to give thanks. Messages and reminders of practicing gratitude are highlighted as themes on television shows, in news stories, and commercials, and digitally on your social media networks. In schools across the country, chalk talk at this time of year highlights the importance of gratitude.
While it may be a time to reflect on people, things, and experiences for which you're thankful, what if you're not in a gratitude-is-my-attitude frame of mind? How do you cope with the majority rule of thanking the thanks out of Thanksgiving?
Holidays are often explicitly expressed in positive terms: "Happy Thanksgiving." "Happy Hanukkah." "Merry Christmas." "Happy Kwanzaa." But studies show that holidays evoke not just feelings of happiness and enjoyment but also sadness, cynicism, and even loneliness. And it's important to make room for individuals who don't find calendar holidays a time to celebrate.
7 Tips to Reduce Thanksgiving Blues
- Accept your feelings. Give yourself permission to not be in the spirit of Thanksgiving. It's okay to refrain from feeling the need to give thanks. Be you and be authentic to yourself.
- Reframe expectations. Create a perspective of Thanksgiving Day and what it means to you. It can be a day when you meet with family and friends to share a meal. Or it can be a day that you spend alone if that's what you prefer. It need not have deeper meanings or values than that.
- Be open to receiving. If you do spend time with others, and don't feel the need to give thanks or express gratitude, consider remaining open to receiving gratitude from others. Studies show that taking in others' gratitude boosts your heart rate and levels of "feel-good" hormones dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, as well as your immune system.
- Trigger Awareness. Whether you're spending time with others or alone, consider triggers that may make this day a challenge. By being mindful ahead of time, you can be prepared for their emotional or physical impact and find ways to offset them.
- Adopt mindful coping tools. Consider having coping strategies to call on if you're feeling overwhelmed at Thanksgiving. Tools like finding quiet corners to refuel, verbalizing your needs, setting boundaries, driving yourself to events so you can leave when you want, and other self-caring approaches can help make the day more meaningful for you.
- Plan something afterward. Schedule something to do after Thanksgiving Day. Be it a movie you love, an outing, a cozy day at home, or an activity you enjoy, a plan gives you a positive outlook beyond the challenge of the holiday gathering.
- Focus on self-care. Make sure you take time not only for on the day of Thanksgiving, but the holiday season that continues in the next two months. Make sure to eat and sleep well, and carve out time to refuel.