Be present in all things, and thankful for all things — Maya Angelou
Did you know that 1 in 5 people cope with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety? And that 1 in 10 people are in recovery from addiction? If you have one of these challenges, you are not alone. Thanksgiving can be an especially stressful time, and that stress can make these conditions worse.
Even if you do not have one of these conditions, Thanksgiving may stress you out.
That’s why you need a self-care plan for Thanksgiving Day. Your self-care plan should remind yourself that you have value, adhere to your healthy boundaries and provide for resources in case you need them.
Consider reviewing your plan with a therapist, sponsor, relative or friend.
Here’s an example of a self care plan for Thanksgiving.
- Stay on schedule with medications, meals and sleep.
- Set aside time to rest and relax. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
- Choose safe driving times. Consider not driving between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., when most DUI accidents occur.
- Enjoy a special meal that is right for your dietary needs.
- Abstain from alcohol or reduce what you imbibe.
- Set aside time for exercise. Movement helps reduce anxiety and depression. Stretch, walk outisde, run, bike or do yoga.
- Practice mindfulness. You can choose to meditate, say affirmations, do a craft or color. Practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.
- Express your gratitude. Be thankful in a way that is meaningful to you. Gratitude helps relieve depression and anxiety, and has many health benefits.
- Connect with people and avoid isolating. If you can, spend Thanksgiving with family or friends. If you can’t, arrange time to call them on Thanksgiving Day. If these aren’t options, spend a part of the day around people.
- Do something nice for yourself. Ideas: a bubble path, pedicure, or hair cut/style.
- Plan something fun to do that you really enjoy. Check out the Cool Yule November calendar for ideas.
- Laugh! Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Friends Thanksgiving TV episodes or listen to old time radio Thanksgiving episodes of The Jack Benny Show or Our Miss Brooks (you can find them on YouTube).
- Arrange for help, in case you need it. Put the phone number of your emergency contact person (sponsor, therapist, doctor, etc.) in your phone, to be used in case a crisis develops. The Merrifield CSB in Fairfax County also has a 24-hour mental health crisis number (703) 559-3000.
- Enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal with other people in recovery. The Unity Club in Falls Church offers 12-step meetings and a free Thanksgiving meal from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. with fellowship and great food. You can sign up in advance to bring a dish to share, if you like. Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia is offering a free Thanksgiving meal on November 21 at the Merrifield Peer Resource Center at 12 Noon and on other dates at four other locations in Northern Virginia for people who are living with mental illness and/or addiction..
What other ideas do you have for a Thanksgiving self-care plan?