Thanksgiving Holiday Self-Care: What You Need To Know

WACO, TX – Increased stress and the holiday season, which includes the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend, can go hand-in-hand. The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network (HOTBHN), the Local Mental Health Authority for Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties, is here to help the people of our six-county region cope with some of these stressors.

“Thanksgiving can present the opportunity for family and friends to gather and enjoy good food and fellowship. It is a time when a great deal of effort is made to travel, include and enjoy,” says Bethie Timmons, Director of the Heart of Texas Counseling Center—a subsidiary of HOTBHN. “Thanksgiving, like many holidays, can also be a source of despair and grief. No matter where you are this Thanksgiving Holiday, you can be sure to experience an increase in stress and anxiety which comes from the expectations you set for yourself and for others.”

The American Psychological Association reports 38% of people surveyed said their stress levels increased during the holiday season. Increased stress levels can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 64% of people living with a mental illness felt their condition worsened around the holidays.

Ms. Timmons offers the following tips for handling Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations:

  • Acknowledge to yourself and others that holiday celebrations are stressful even in the most planned out and perfect situations.
  • Limit your expectations for how things will go. If you go in with low expectations anything above that will be a bonus!
  • Do not “over” anything: Over cook, over prepare, over worry, over think. You get the picture.
  • If you have experienced a loss in the last year, know that loss will be magnified during the holidays. It is OK to be sad and it is OK to talk about grief or the person you lost with others.
  • It is not unusual for people to fall back into their roles and patterns of childhood when gathering with their families. Pay attention to this and try to remain an adult with the power to make good choices for yourself.
  • We all know that it is important to stay away from “hot topics.” It is not necessary to fix things during one day or weekend with those you love. Leave those topics out of your conversations and do not be afraid to walk away from conversations that might make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Stay in situations only as long as they are good for you and when they are no longer good, say your good-byes and leave. You do not have to make excuses and you do not have to explain. Simply thank your hosts for the time you spent there and then walk away.

HOTBHN will close all of its offices in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday on November 24 and 25. Our Crisis Services Hotline is available 24/7 with a toll-free call at 866-752-3451.


Vince Erickson,

Division Director, Community & Governmental Relations

Cell: (254) 265-2030

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