Go Strong All (Thanksgiving) Day Long

Who says the holidays have to be exhausting? Try these 6 strategies for boosting your energy.
Published November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving is about celebrating what and whom you’re thankful for. But even if the day is nothing but delightful, yawn-inducing turkey, a carb overload, and long hours may kick the stuffing out of you. Your choice: Fall asleep in front of TV football like your uncle, or take some simple steps to help boost your energy and feel better as the day rolls on. Try these strategies:

6 tips to keep your energy high during the holiday

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, PhD, 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 actually check things off. You could feel your load lighten somewhat which may give you an energizing sense of accomplishment, Hall adds.

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).

Pencil in a workout

Moving your body may be a natural way to help release some draining stress and increase energy, says Marta Montenegro, MS, CSCS, adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University. The best way to move? That really depends on what makes you feel the best from the inside-out — whether that’s a quick walk around the neighborhood or 20-minutes of yoga, she says. Other ideas: Some preliminary research suggests that short bouts of strength training and longer cardio workouts may help increase energy.

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.

Delegate and win

Ask an older nephew to be in charge of crafting with the kids. Task your sister with chopping 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.

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 sleep.