How to Repurpose Your Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is about more than just enjoying a delicious holiday feast of turkey with all the trimmings, then heading out the door before the day is over to get a jump start on Black Friday bargains. Enjoying a healthy Thanksgiving also means sharing time with others and nurturing the mind and spirit as part of the holiday. In that spirit, Baystate Health professionals offer the following five tips to repurpose your Thanksgiving.

Get unplugged. “With our hectic lifestyles, many families find it increasingly difficult to maintain the valuable routine of having a family meal. Fortunately, the tradition of families eating a meal together is preserved on Thanksgiving. In order to make the most of this, it’s helpful for both young people and adults to strive to be truly present at the Thanksgiving table.

Consider adopting a new tradition which may not have been relevant in previous generations: as the food is being served, ‘un-serve’ all of the smartphones by asking everyone to put them onto a tray and remove them from the room. This will eliminate the temptation of checking e-mail and texting during the meal and help everyone to get the most out of the precious time of sharing a meal together and valuing the relationships and traditions of the family.” — Dr. Barry Sarvet, chief of Child Psychiatry and vice chair of Psychiatry, Baystate Medical Center

Exercise in the name of family and health. “It’s well-known that exercise has many health benefits, from lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol to helping prevent heart disease, to uplifting your spirits and managing depression.

Instead of plopping down on the couch and watching football all day on Thanksgiving, why not consider continuing quality family time after leaving the dinner table and taking a nice family walk, or even playing touch football outdoors? Other outdoor sports like soccer, or anything that gets you moving, such as turning up the music and dancing after your Thanksgiving feast, is good for your health.” — Dr. Quinn Pack, Heart & Vascular Program, Baystate Medical Center                        

Remember, it’s a time for giving. “Faced with the over-consumerism of today, especially on Thanksgiving, when some children may see a parent heading out the door even earlier now to grab up all the Black Friday bargains, it’s important to remember that our national holiday is made up of two words, thanks and giving. Adults need to remember what they were hopefully taught as youngsters, that it is better to give than to receive, and to pass that same wisdom onto their children.

Whether adult or child, scientific studies show that there are pleasure centers in the brain that are stimulated when we connect with someone in a meaningful way, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter or providing food for a family in need at Thanksgiving. Other research points to the fact that we are happier when giving and not focusing on the ‘me,’ and that can lead to both better physical and mental health.” — Dr. Laura Koenigs, interim chair, Baystate Children’s Hospital

Be thankful and mend relationships.  “The ‘thanks’ in Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for being together on the holiday. But what about those loved ones and friends we might be estranged from? Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on ways to improve family relationships. And eliminating latent feelings of disappointment and sadness over a stressed relationship can also benefit both one’s mental and physical health.” — Dr. Benjamin Liptzin, chair, Department of Psychiatry, Baystate Medical Center

De-stress your Thanksgiving. “Sure, you want everything to be just right for Thanksgiving, from a perfectly cooked Turkey to avoiding any conflict among relatives who might not always see eye-to-eye. It’s stress, holiday style. Making sure you get enough sleep leading up to the holiday can benefit your immune system and help keep you free of illness. Getting a good night’s sleep can also help to relieve stress and keep you alert, productive, and focused on the true meaning of the holiday.”  — Dr. Karin Johnson, director, Sleep Clinic, Baystate Medical Center

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