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Managing Thanksgiving stress

The holidays are upon us once again — what an exciting time! This year, I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner. This is the first time I have ever done a holiday meal, so I’m really excited — I love to cook! Stress levels tend to run high, though, even with the excitement. Since I am pregnant, it is even more important than ever that I keep stress under control. So I started preparing about a week ago.

That may sound like pretty far in advance, but I find that planning is one of the best ways for me to combat stress. I worked on finalizing my menu last week. Everyone who is coming is going to bring at least one dish — that’s a long-standing “tradition” in my family so the burden of preparing an entire meal doesn’t fall solely on one person. It’s really helpful on budget and stress! So here’s what I’m left with preparing for the 11 guests we will have:

  • Roast turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry orange relish
  • Rolls

I’ve started a list of what I need to cook, and when it needs to go in the oven, so I don’t feel like a turkey with its head cut off that day!

Last weekend I grabbed a 13-pound turkey I thought was a good price from Costco; now I don’t have to fight anybody for one. I listed out all the ingredients I needed to buy on Saturday, and made a trip to the store to get everything. It was like a circus, but my husband and I managed to get in and out of three stores with less than $100 spent and everything accounted for! Success!

5 month pic with PanzerI also bathed the dog last weekend. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but imagine for a moment convincing a 180-pound Great Dane to get into the bathtub (because you’re not going to force him!). Now imagine having to soap him up while he’s leaning against the wall in the tub — well, you soap most of him. He slides all over the tub, and he’s wobbly, so that’s another exciting element. Don’t forget about the extra 10 inches around your waist, making it hard to lean over and keep your balance! This time, he slipped and fell in the tub trying to get out. So I had to use a harness for walking him to physically lift him up so he could get out — luckily, he helped a little. It’s a huge undertaking, and I always put it off at long as possible — it’s a 180-pound weight off my mind now!

Besides planning everything in advance, there are some other important aspects to managing my stress right now. I make sure to keep up with my daily walks. Fresh air and movement make it so much easier to cope. I also make sure to take deep breaths when I feel my stress levels rising. This little technique is so much more effective than people think! It’s really important for me to get a good night’s sleep. I can’t rely on caffeine to get me through the day, so I need to be rested. I make doubly sure to maintain my healthy eating habits, even though it’s easier not to right now. I feel so much worse physically when I don’t eat healthy, and it’s not good for a growing baby anyway.

The last piece of my stress management puzzle is my husband. He is wonderful, and has offered to help with last-minute cleaning and cooking, and generally anything extra that needs done.  He is a lifesaver, and I am so grateful for that!

What other tips do you have for me to help manage stress?