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Focus on fun: 5 easy tips for a relaxed Thanksgiving

Focus on fun: 5 easy tips for a relaxed Thanksgiving
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(BPT) - While Thanksgiving is supposed to be a heartwarming time for appreciating family and friends, it’s no secret the traditionally food-filled holiday can be less than relaxing for those making the preparations.

In fact, studies show 71 percent of Americans feel stressed rather than overjoyed at some point during the holiday season. But psychologists say a key element in warding off that stress is to identify what’s likely to test your nerves, then make plans to work around it.

“From conflict with family to endless pressure to conform to a mythical 'ideal' approach to the holidays, many people find themselves overwhelmed at the holidays,” writes psychiatry professor Dr. Joel L. Young in Psychology Today. “If you're among their number, you're not alone. Changing the way you approach this stressful season can help you move past the chaos and pressure.”

Think about how the following suggestions can keep your Thanksgiving more joyous than jumbled.

* Keep it real. Examine whether you have unrealistic expectations about how the holiday should be spent, what it should represent and how guests should behave. Instead of focusing on what it “should be,” appreciate it for what it is. You’re dealing with human beings with human emotions, and as such you can’t expect everyone to bond like glue and equally appreciate each aspect of the celebration.

* Begone, bothersome meal prep. Entertaining can be challenging enough without feeling obligated to whip up a delicious meal from scratch. Make the holidays easier and less stressful on the entire family this year; that means no recipe hunting, no ingredient shopping and no worries about roasting that whole turkey to plump perfection (the No. 1 Thanksgiving stress inducer). Order ahead and pick up traditional holiday favorites like entrees, sides and pies from the Holiday Experts at Boston Market in-restaurant on or before Thanksgiving; have dinner catered; or even have a complete Thanksgiving meal delivered to your doorstep in time for the holiday, featuring whole roasted turkey, boneless ham or roasted turkey breast. Forget something at the last minute? Boston Market restaurants are also open on Thanksgiving Day for any holiday revelers with a taste for a Family Meal, whole pies or hot side dishes.

* Start a new tradition. Thanksgiving can be exhausting, so it’s the perfect opportunity to commit to taking some time for yourself before your company arrives. Whether you take a walk around the block peacefully by yourself or enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the parade in bed, carving out a little extra time to focus on yourself can ensure you start the day, and holiday, on your terms.

* Fire up, Team Thanksgiving! The holiday should be a group effort, not an overwhelming chore for one or two people. Politely and cheerfully assign a serving crew, a clean-up crew and an entertainment committee, or perhaps ask guests to bring drinks, desserts or late-night snacks. When it comes to cleaning beforehand, you might also consider hiring younger family members seeking holiday spending money.

* It’s all about the fun. Post-feast, laying around watching the big game may be just the ticket. But great memories and/or traditions are more likely to be made if group activities are available. Consider playing board games or cards, watching meaningful movies, staging family sporting events, crafting, having a musical jam session or making and decorating holiday cookies together.