5 Thanksgiving Day Energy Hacks

Thanksgiving revolves around expressing gratitude for the people and things you cherish. However, even amidst the joy, the combination of a tiresome turkey feast, carb indulgence, and extended hours can leave you feeling drained. The decision is yours: Doze off in front of the TV like your uncle, or embrace these straightforward techniques to revitalize your energy and enjoy the day to the fullest. Give these tactics a shot:

  1. Create a digital to-do list

    Whether you’re hosting or simply trying to remember everything you’re supposed to pick up for the party, your head may be whirling with to-dos. "Every thought, word, and action a human does requires energy," says Kathleen Hall, Ph D., founder and CEO of The Stress Institute and Mindful Living Network in Atlanta, GA.

    Writing out all your tasks first thing could help you feel more in control of the day’s chaos, Hall says. If you feel overwhelmed by to-do lists, try a list-making app like Google Keep or TickTick. Be sure to check things off. You could feel your load lighten somewhat, which may give you an energizing sense of accomplishment, Hall adds.

  2. Don’t starve yourself

    While you might want to save up all day for a turkey feast, skimping on food may be a surefire way to drain energy. “When you go too long without, hunger may cause fatigue and irritability,” says Patricia Bannan, R.D.N., author of Eat Right When Time is Tight. Instead, plan to eat regularly. Make sure your meals include the fueling combo of protein and fiber-containing carbs (like eggs and a side of whole wheat toast or nuts, veggies, and hummus). Keep your portion sizes in check, too, says Bannan (or just let your Points guide you).

  3. Always find the positive

    You can’t always enjoy everything that the holiday season brings (ahem, family drama). But focusing on the positive in a potentially energy-sapping environment — your kids’ laughter, the smells of Thanksgiving, or the fact that someone else is cooking dinner — could all help put some pep in your step, says Hall. "When we’re optimistic, our brain may secrete endorphins, which function as healing hormones and may potentially make us feel good. There’s also serotonin, a neurotransmitter that may help balance your mood and emotions.” Pessimism, on the other hand, potentially releases a whole slew of negative hormones and brain chemicals that could put you in an even worse mood, she says.

  4. Delegate and win

    Ask an older nephew to be in charge of crafting with the kids. Task your sister to chop while she chit-chats. And who’s carving the bird? Handing off duties may help ease stress when you’re in charge of the kitchen, says Kristin McCaig, an Ontario-based personal chef and author of the Eat by Design Coaching Cookbook. Doing so could add up to free time pre-meal, during which — dare we say it — you can breathe.

  5. Score solid sleep

    A great way to power through a day with minimal drag is to rest up the night before. But sleeping when you’re stressed could be easier said than done. Staring at the ceiling? Close your eyes and consciously rest instead of stressing about not being able to sleep. “Resting may accomplish about 70 percent of what sleep does,” says Chris Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It. Relax, breathe, and let your thoughts drift to positive things. When your brain’s not stressing about not being able to sleep, you may be more likely to … yep … fall asleep.

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