The Blog


Go From Stressed to Blessed. Reduce Inflammation this Holiday Season with Gratitude and Connection.

autoimmune journey mindset pain and inflammation Nov 08, 2022

What’s wrong with the Holidays?

The holidays are a great time to connect with family and strengthen your relationships. Especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s the time of the year when recognizing family and gratitude is super important.

If you haven’t been enjoying Thanksgiving as much as you could have in recent years, you’re probably not alone.

πŸ”₯ COVID times created a lot of anxiety around gatherings and now it’s “normal” to have a mini panic attack when you walk in a room and someone coughs (even if it’s just from drinking water the wrong way).

There are also so many other stress & pressures that come with the holidays…

πŸ”₯ Cooking up a healthier meal because of your food restrictions and hoping people will enjoy it

πŸ”₯ Having to explain to family members you can’t eat certain foods because of your food restrictions (and trying not to offend them because you don’t want to eat their foods)

πŸ”₯ Spending money you don’t have on outfits and decorations

πŸ”₯ Worried that you just can’t connect with family because you’ve estranged yourself from all other parties due to fatigue or pains 

When you’re suffering from autoimmune problems or even other chronic illnesses, it’s easy to feel estranged from your family because you feel like they won’t understand. You may be physically in the same room but emotionally, it can feel like there’s a ton of distance.

My big Filipino family’s love language is all about food. And it’s normal to have a 15-course meal and a buffet of desserts available to choose from. But the main thing I struggle with is trying not to eat everything (lol), but most of all – having to explain to our elders why I’m not eating certain dishes.

 Rule #1: Don’t explain. Just smile and say, I will, thank you!

But this blog isn’t about our food struggles. This is about another way to reduce inflammation that has nothing to do with food.

When planning your holidays with your family, instead of primarily focusing on what food everyone is going to bring, let’s aim to make this Thanksgiving a completely different celebration.  Check out these tips for connecting with family and building deeper relationships.

Top 5 tips to connect with family

1)     Creating Family Traditions

Does your family have any traditions for Thanksgiving? If not, make this the year you start some that can stand the test of time.

Family traditions can create a more memorable Thanksgiving experience and help you feel closer to your family — especially if it involves multiple members of the family getting involved together.

A few ideas for this include:

  • Make a special breakfast before the big Thanksgiving dinner. This can be anything from pancakes to cinnamon rolls, but it can give everyone something to look forward to each Thanksgiving.
  • Prepare the table together and have fun with the decorations and centrepieces.
  • Bake a Thanksgiving pie that everyone loves. This can be made ahead of time in the morning to free up more quality time together.

Make a gratitude box and encourage everyone to fill it up with notes about what they’re grateful for. Bonus points if you can put the focus on family-related gratitude. These notes can be read out during your Thanksgiving celebration to create a positive atmosphere and deepen your family relationships. A gratitude box can be just a cardboard box at its most basic.

  • Go for a family walk before or after your Thanksgiving meal. When you can get back, you can make eating dessert a more meaningful activity. You can also whip up some hot drinks to enjoy together.
  • Do a good deed or two over Thanksgiving week. A few ideas include boxing up leftovers and handing them out to homeless people or inviting a lonely neighbour to join your Thanksgiving meal.

2)    Focus On Gratitude

For many families, the focus of Thanksgiving is food. Switching things up can make a whole heap of difference. You can still enjoy good food and use the Thanksgiving celebration as a springboard for family connections.

Focus on the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving and have an “attitude of gratitude”. It’s likely one of the few times of the year that so many family members will get together and this is something to celebrate.

If you don’t have the best relationship with your family, switch the focus of your gratitude to health and wellbeing instead.

If you can find something to feel grateful for, it can put a whole new perspective on Thanksgiving.

3)    Making Thanksgiving Meals More Meaningful

Even though you’re sitting around the same table with a ton of Thanksgiving meals, but have little to no family connection… The main problem is -- Staying connected to technology, instead of focusing on connection.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a lot you can do to make things different this year.

Avoiding technology during your Thanksgiving meal is a must. If everyone is more concerned with their phones, it’s super hard to foster any meaningful connections. It sends out a big message, namely that staying connected to other people is more important than connecting.

Ask everyone to put their phones in a basket. This avoids any temptation to check messages during dinner!

Encourage your family to have more meaningful conversations to get to know each other better. This can include sharing positive memories, mistakes, embarrassing moments, goals and lessons learnt. Going beyond the usual small talk can be super enlightening. You may even learn new things about your family!

4)   Remembering Family Who Have Passed

Like most families, you probably have members who are no longer with you. Taking the time to pay tribute to them can help everyone to feel connected. This can be as simple as sharing positive memories about them.

5)    Including Far Away Family Members

Work commitments and bad weather can mean that some family members aren’t able to attend your Thanksgiving meal in person.

You can still involve them in your Thanksgiving celebrations by taking advantage of technology. Skye and Facetime are perfect for linking up with absent family members and helping them to feel connected.

You can look to coincide your meal time with absent family so it’s easier to arrange a time to catch up.

Which one will you implement in your family this year?

Share it with me in our Facebook Group Here


Stay in the know! 

Subscribe to the Anti-Inflammatory Living Blog and be notified when a new post is published! Be the first to know when there are new tips, tricks, & free resources you can get your hands on! 

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.