From cooking a turkey to catching a connecting flight, stress is as much a symbol of Thanksgiving as are stuffing or pumpkin pie. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Several College of Charleston professors offer these five tips to help you cope with the stresses associated with the holiday.
1. No Politics at the Table
It is no secret that the recent political season was very divisive. Psychology professor Lisa Thomson Ross says the holidays are a time to give it a temporary rest. “I think people might need to request that there be no discussion of politics or the election during the meal itself – there is already enough pressure associated with the ‘perfect’ meal and having a ‘perfect’ family.”
2. Go Cold Turkey with Phones
A national survey three years ago revealed that one-third of us use our smart phones at the dinner table. Odds are, that percentage is even higher today. Psychology professor Rhonda Swickert-Hittner says it is time to put the phones away. “When we do this we signal that we value others and truly want to spend time with them. If we can stay in the moment and let people know that they have our undivided attention, the connection that we have created can be so much more gratifying for them and us.”
3. Be Prepared to Wait
Thanksgiving is historically the biggest travel time of the year. The American Automobile Association expects the busiest travel season in nine years with a projected 48.7 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more from home between Wednesday and Sunday. That’s nearly two percent higher than last year and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. That means crowded roads, crowded airports, crowded everything.
4. Pre-Planning Your Trip
OK, now something optimistic about your stress level. If you have already planned your entire Thanksgiving trip, you may have already overcome the most stressful part of the holiday.
According to a research project conducted by hospitality and tourism professor John Crotts regarding vacation stress, the worst stress comes in the time period you spend getting ready for the trip. “The area in which the most stress was experienced was in the trip planning stage,” says Crotts. “The search for information, development of a vacation itinerary, making reservations and packing for the trip … were not stress-free processes.”
5. Get Moving
One of the best ways to deal with travel stress is to exercise. Exercise has been shown in countless studies to effectively treat stress, depression, anxiety and even the common cold, says health and human performance professor Marie “Scooter” Barnette. “Exercise is the absolute best thing to improve innumerable things about our health.”
If you’re still reading this article, time to power down and enjoy the holiday.