Published:
November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks for Our Health – Five Tips for a Memorable Thanksgiving

Rebecca Robin, IIN Content Editor

Keeping traditions and festivities alive this Thanksgiving

Family, friends, and food are just some of the things that come to mind when you think of Thanksgiving ­– yet this year the festivities may look a little different. This Turkey Day comes after a prolonged period of change and difficulty, so we understand that celebrating this kind of holiday might feel especially stressful this year.

Just as we’ve learned to navigate this change, foster resilience, and take care of ourselves during a pandemic, we can also learn how to express gratitude in alternative ways this holiday season! Here at IIN, we’re reflecting on what it means to be thankful this particular Thanksgiving, from a greater appreciation for our health, stronger relationships with friends and family, or a pause-and-reset on both career and personal goals. Not taking our health for granted is something we should all focus on remembering right now.

What does it mean to show thanks for our health?

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, you’re likely accustomed to the tradition of going around the dinner table and sharing what you’re most thankful for. Often, though, we get so preoccupied in the hustle and bustle of preparing a big meal, or in making sure that everyone at the dinner table gets along, that we tend to point out things we are grateful for that are external from us.

This year presents an opportunity to look at one of the most important things to be thankful for – our health (and our ability to take care of our health!). Giving thanks is more than just expressing your gratitude verbally at the dinner table; it’s about exuding that gracious energy in your daily life and using it to become the happiest and healthiest version of yourself.

Health will look different for everyone around the dinner (or video conferencing!) table because we all have different physical, mental, and emotional needs. This could be the perfect opportunity to speak with your loved ones about nurturing your mind and body with more primary food – the practices that enhance your life that aren’t diet-related, as well as the importance of preventive health measures that promote long-term well-being and immunity, like regular physical activity, eating a nutrient-dense diet, and prioritizing sleep.

Five tips for celebrating this Thanksgiving in a meaningful and health-conscious way:

     1.  Give a gift to a neighbor or friend.

Giving to others can be incredibly beneficial for your health and the health of others. When you extend kindness toward someone else, you are not only spreading positive energy toward them, but also toward yourself. This Thanksgiving holiday provides a great opportunity to further connect with the people around you, building a tighter-knit community close to home.

More people will be spending the holidays alone this year – whether it’s friends, neighbors, or family members they decide not to travel to see. Whoever it is, they’ll likely be in need of a pick-me-up, especially after these stressful months. Putting together a gift basket of fruits or baked treats, or even leaving a note and box of chocolates at your neighbor’s door, can go a long way in showing you care and they are in your thoughts. This year at IIN, we’ve really leaned into finding support within your community, and acts of kindness are a step toward bringing your community a little closer to home.

     2.  Make Thanksgiving cooking a more enjoyable (and kid-friendly) activity.

Running out of arts-and-crafts activities to do with the kids? For the parents out there, a cooking project may be a perfect idea to get your kids involved in an “extracurricular” activity after school. Spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving looking through recipes, and give yourself a head start by letting them stir the pumpkin pie batter or mash the potatoes. You can make the experience more special by choosing a family recipe and video chatting with family members to cook together.

Though sitting down to a meal together is seen as the focus of the holiday, there is so much more that goes into making the celebrations special. If you’re spending the holiday with family in person or virtually, we encourage you to turn the stressful moments into a primary food experience. Turn on your favorite music while in the kitchen and dance it out with the entire family. You may find yourself enjoying the prep work more than in previous years.

woman sitting outside with mug in front of plant

     3.  Create a festive atmosphere and décor.

A positive home environment can have a tremendous effect on your mood and well-being. Perhaps you’ve been debating creating that Thanksgiving centerpiece saved on your Pinterest, or you’ve been craving a cozier and fall-inspired space. The feng shui of your home can transform your holiday experience, regardless of whether this year’s festivities include a smaller crowd. Whether you’re eating indoors or outdoors, try setting your table with warm earth tones and festive candles. A calm and appealing aesthetic can lift your spirits and do a whole lot of good for your mental health!

     4.  Get active on Turkey Day (on your own or with friends and family).

Are you used to lounging around on Thanksgiving morning? Though there’s something to be said about taking a rest day, this year may inspire you to adopt a new tradition and get your sweat on. Showing appreciation for your health means developing habits that support your body and its long-term health. Exercise is one of the best preventive health practices that can positively transform your mind-set, while also giving you the opportunity to express gratitude for your body and all it does for you.

Enlist any family member or friend, turning exercise into a joyful family-bonding experience. A quick jog or power walk is the perfect way to get endorphins flowing and jump-start your metabolism, helping everyone work up an appetite for the big meal.

     5.  Support your local farmers’ market. (Hello, fresh apple pie!)

Make your Thanksgiving dinner more memorable by cooking with the freshest ingredients possible. Eating local, in-season foods is not only better for your health, but also a great way to give back to your community. It's the perfect way to support sustainable farming practices and a cleaner earth, while also showing thanks to your local farmers and their families. Whether you’re picking up a crisp batch of apples, a homemade cranberry sauce, or fresh of herbs for your turkey stuffing, a trip to the farmers’ market can make your Thanksgiving prep more flavorful and nutritious.

Focusing on what matters most

No matter which part of your Thanksgiving may look different, the heart of the holiday still stands. Take a moment to appreciate how much you’ve grown and developed, and recognize the little things that you are thankful for. Maybe this year it’s something as small as having family around to help with your kids, or even the ability to run a bit longer on your morning jog.

These little moments of gratitude can add up, helping you feel happier and more fulfilled in every aspect of your life. When you lean into primary food experiences, you’ll find that your health and overall purpose becomes clearer on every level.

An IIN Health Coach education can help you improve your health by embracing primary food – otherwise known as the nourishment that you get from cultivating stronger relationships and practice self-care. Check out our Curriculum Guide today to learn more about this core concept.

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