woman eatingI was meeting with a client yesterday discussing her upcoming trip home for Thanksgiving. She was fraught with anxiety as she anticipated the typical tension of being around extended family and being faced with all the food.

She has worked so hard this year to groove new, healthier habits in her daily life body, mind and spirit and doesn’t want to blow it.

Thanksgiving can be a time of communion with people we love; a time of feeling grateful for our many blessings.

Thanksgiving can also be a time that triggers old stress patterns including overeating to stuff feelings we don’t want to feel and face.  It’s all too common to turn to creamy casseroles, cake and pie when uncomfortable emotions and feelings of stress arise.

This year, I encourage you to practice mindfulness on Thanksgiving in relationship with food and family.

Here are 7 tips for ways you can enjoy mindfully enjoy Thanksgiving without stuffing your feelings:

  1. BEFORE you gather with your family for Thanksgiving, give yourself dedicated alone-time to journal about all the anticipatory angst you may be feeling. Take a brisk walk and sit in meditation to just be with yourself.
  2. If you are on a healthy eating regimen, prepare your own healthy dish so you know there will be something there that jives with your healthy eating program.
  3. Remind yourself it’s 2014, not 1974. Come into the present moment, remind yourself you are a full grown adult now and that your parents/siblings/grandparents are also adults on their own life journey. This will help you not to be hooked and reeled in to any painful or uncomfortable past events/memories.
  4. Practice the yoga of eating with mindfulness at mealtime. Be sure to pause before you put food to your lips and contemplate what it is you are eating taking time to smell, taste, slowly chew your food setting your fork down between bites. Allow yourself to enjoy a few bites of pie – just do it mindfully.
  5. Take a break. If you begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable during the Thanksgiving gathering, excuse yourself and go outside for some fresh air. Use this time to talk to yourself, again, coming into present time and remember you are choosing a healthy way of living body, mind and spirit now. Take this time to breathe deeply and feel the ground under your feet.
  6. If someone at the holiday gathering treats you in a way that is disrespectful, assert yourself by firmly but politely requesting they stop. Tell them their words are hurtful and you would prefer not to hear it.
  7. When you prepare to say goodbye to everyone, make it a point to look each person in the eye and say something kind from your heart. It’s good for your spirit and well as their’s.

Although Thanksgiving can be a stress-inducing time it also can be a wonderful time to practice an attitude of gratitude and forgiveness of the past.

It can be a time of opportunity to step fully into your present life, feel palpable gratitude for your body, breath, life just as it is and letting go of patterns of hurt and tension that are rooted in the past.

May this Thanksgiving be one of new-found freedom, ease and joy!