17 Fun Thanksgiving Mental Health Activities (Gratitude, Self-Care, Ahhh!)

Looking for fun and easy mental health activities for Thanksgiving? You’ve come to the right place! Taking care of your mental health during Thanksgiving is the best way to be able to fully appreciate the magic of the Thanksgiving season!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and a great time of the year for family members to gather and celebrate! But, with that comes stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and a lot of times, depression.

It is the catch 22 of this time of the year. We have less sunlight, and fewer hours during the day to get all the holiday preparations done.

Instead of allowing feelings of guilt over eating too much pie or having a holiday crisis meltdown – Why not deal with stress and anxiety the easy way?

Feel free to use these 17 coping skills to take care of your mental health this Thanksgiving, and have some fun while doing it!

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17 Thanksgiving Mental Health Activities

When I prioritized my mental health over everything needing to be perfect, I was able to enjoy time with family and friends sooo much more!

These 17 Thanksgiving activities for mental health will greatly benefit your mental health, as well as your emotional and physical health!

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1. Write in a Gratitude Journal

Of course, this is my number one choice for a Thanksgiving Day mental healthy activity! Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most simple things you can do to elevate your mood on Thanksgiving.

The benefits of gratitude on mental health are well documented, and finding ways to express gratitude not just during the holidays, but all year will help keep you happy!

This Gratitude Journal available on Amazon is the right way to deal with holiday stress. It’s beautiful and if you keep it by your bed, you can make practicing gratitude a daily practice, instead of just on Thanksgiving.

2. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

I picked up the regular practice of Mindfulness Meditation when my mental health took a nose dive in 2011. After suffering from severe manic bipolar episodes while trying to quit my substance abuse problems, I knew I had to do something.

I found mindfulness meditation as an answer to my prayers when I was guided there by a YouTube video called Mind Silence. The guided meditation was so profound, using tuning forks to slowly ease the mind into a deep meditative state.

I’m happy to report, I’ve taken control of my mental health with healthy food, clean water, and regular exercise! I still practice mindfulness meditation at least a few times per week, and love to practice Guided Gratitude Meditations during Thanksgiving as well as the rest of the holidays!

You can read more of my story in, My Spiritual Awakening Recovery: How I Overcame Grief & Addiction to Spiritually Awaken & Create My Own Reality, available on Amazon!

3. Start a Gratitude Jar

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to make a Gratitude Jar! It is one of those fun Thanksgiving crafts that you can actually use the whole year, and will be especially helpful for improving your mental health during the holidays.

Studies show a daily practice of gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude activities can help people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

This is also a great holiday activity for older children, as it teaches them to be grateful for what they have! We all see lack very easily and teenagers especially wish they had what their friends have, or others on social media.

You can even add this great quote from Oprah Winfrey to the front of your jar, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

4. Take a Nap

When it comes to mental health, staying balanced is the most important thing I’ve found. The holidays can often bring stress and anxiety with a seemingly never-ending to-do list to keep up Thanksgiving tradition and get favorite activities done.

Sometimes our physical bodies need more rest during the darker winter months, as well as after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Give yourself permission to take the rest, break, or nap in your room!

Even laying down for 20 minutes while pressing the “pause” from the go, go, go of the holidays can recharge you.

Get cozy, turn on some peaceful music, and snooze away!

5. Print Out and Color a Monthly Mood Tracker Mandala PDF

Coloring is a great way to cultivate good feelings for Thanksgiving, and this FREE Printable Mandala Monthly Mood Tracker will keep you vibing high the whole month of November, or even into December!

Just print it out for free from any computer browser, and then fill in the moods/colors you’d like to track in the “Key” section!

Easy peezy and calming!

6. Make a Gratitude Tree

You can turn making these cute trees into a gratitude game that is perfect for kids of all ages! Even older kids will benefit from ditching social media for an hour to take part in this Thanksgiving tradition.

Just print out the gratitude trees and fill in the leaves with things “I’m thankful for…” This free tool is one of those classic games for Thanksgiving that I remember from my childhood and still make me smile today!

7. Watch Funny Holiday Movies

What better way to take care of your mental health on Thanksgiving than laughing! Laughter really is one of the best medicines for good mental health, and has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life.

There are too many great, funny holiday movies to list here, but these are just some of the greats! My family and I quote them to each other, and they are “the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through!”

Get your black dickie/white sweater and moose cups ready to drink some eggnog with these family Christmas classics!

Some funny and classic favorite holiday movies of me and my family’s are:

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Our family’s classic funny go-to holiday movie! Still hilarious!)
  • Just Friends (No one remembers this one, but it is a Christmas movie, and sooo funny! Anna Faris and Ryan Reynolds slay the jokes!)
  • Love, Actually (Cute, funny, and a great interweaving storyline!)
  • The Grinch (Any Grinch movie! All the Grinch movies! Especially the one with Jim Carrey!)
  • Daddy’s Home 2 (Combine a fun family film with tear-invoking scenes at the end!)
  • A Very Merry Pooh Year (Winnie the Pooh – Cute and funny even for adults!)
  • Bad Santa (Just good clean, I mean naughty, fun! LOL!)
  • Jingle All the Way (Arnold Schwarzenegger is a legend! And, feel free to check my spelling on his name!)
  • Elf (Will Ferrell is at his cutest and funniest!)
  • A Christmas Story (The original classic! Fra – jil – ay leg lamp and pink bunny costume! Brilliant!)
  • The Night Before (R-rated Seth Rogan fun for adults!)
  • Last Holiday (Love me some Queen Latifah! Starts sweet. Ends sweeter!)

8. Write a Gratitude Letter

Similar to writing in a gratitude journal, except writing a letter of gratitude for mental health on Thanksgiving Day can be done with just a piece of paper!

It is so simple to do!

Just find a piece of paper, draw a ridiculous hand turkey on the top like a playful child, and fill out the 10 things you are most grateful for this Thanksgiving!

Feel free to do more than 10 if you’d like!

9. Do Some Yoga or Stretching

Another great mindfulness activity for improving your mental health on Thanksgiving is yoga, or even some simple light stretching. There are many great and quick options on YouTube for free!

Practicing some light yoga on Thanksgiving is also the perfect way to end a big Thanksgiving meal, and prepare for a great Thanksgiving nap or sleep!

10. Practice a Thanksgiving Gratitude Ceremony

Another wonderful way to practice gratitude on Thanksgiving is with a gratitude ceremony. I like to light this candle, burn incense or smudge sage, and then write 10 things I’m thankful for on a small piece of paper.

I start the practice with a prayer for increasing thoughts of gratitude in my own life, and also by remembering what positive memories stood out last year!

Did I spend a little extra time with the little ones on Thanksgiving? Or did I have some quality time with my spouse that made my holidays extra special at the end of the day? Then, I seek to repeat last year’s happy memories!

Place your memories of what made Thanksgiving special last year, as well as what you are really grateful for this year on your mirror, or somewhere you’ll see it all day long!

Make yourself smile every time you see it by adding silly drawings, turkeys, or funny faces!

11. Take a Long Hot Bath

If you’re looking for different ways to take care of your mental health on Thanksgiving, try some self-care! A long, hot bath filled with an Epsom Salt Soak may be just the thing you need! Or, you can do a facial routine while listening to your favorite music!

How to Take a Spiritual Cleansing Bath with Epsom Salt

12. Take a Walk around the Neighborhood

There is no better time than before a big Thanksgiving dinner to take a stroll around your neighborhood and express appreciation for the beauty that exists in nature!

Maybe there is snow on the ground and in the trees where you live? Or, maybe the clouds are beautifully dark and foreboding?

What animals do you notice? Or what neighbors can you say hi to, and wish a Happy Thanksgiving!

Practicing mindfulness while walking will also help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude to really usher in the positive emotions of Thanksgiving Day!

13. Do a Gratitude Tea Ceremony

Drinking certain herbal teas and eating certain foods have the ability to boost your mood! 6 Mood-Boosting Foods (That Really Work!)

This is a great way to take care of your mental health and cultivate some positive effects for your Thanksgiving holiday dinner or celebration!

Make the positive energy tea with intention while thinking of the perfect spot to slow down and take in some nature. Maybe your back deck has a beautiful view, or your front porch.

Add real lemon juice to your tea for a quick mood boost! Slowly sip your tea. Each time you take a sip, think of something you are grateful for this Thanksgiving.

It could be your job, your spouse, your kids, money in the bank, food on the table, or as simple as clothing on your back.

Next, really feel a thankful appreciation for EVERYTHING small in your life, as well as the big stuff!

We often overlook things like the health that we do have. My go-to to really get into feeling gratitude as well as just thinking it, is my husband and kids!

Now, really FEEL the gratitude! Feel the tingly vibration of gratitude as it washes up and down your spine. Let your smile grow wide as you embrace gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day!

14. Read a Good Book

Reading develops critical thinking skills and is a great activity that keeps you mindful in the present moment! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to wind down and de-stress with a good page-turning book!

Curl up with your favorite genre of book! A book about gratitude may be just the thing to stave off negative emotions at this time of year.

Or, I love a good fantasy fiction novel like the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings Special Edition Series. The books really are ALWAYS better than the movies!

15. Use Positive Affirmations

Using positive affirmations has been shown to reduce negative thoughts and improve health. We believe the stories we tell ourselves, and oftentimes these stories began somewhere in childhood.

Things such as, “I’m not good enough”, or “I am worthless”, have no place in your strong mind! I created a DEEP Shadow Work Journal & Workbook for diving deep into the dark side of our negative thoughts, as well as helping to heal and integrate the side of ourselves that’s thought we weren’t enough.

Positive affirmations also “root out” the negativity and lower vibrational thought patterns we get stuck in! You can use affirmations such as: Happy, peaceful, joyful, fun, delightful, strong, charismatic, bubbly, etc.

If you need help with figuring out what affirmations to repeat, YouTube also has some great free guided videos that you can simply listen along to!

16. Video Call with Family and Friends

Even if your holiday plans don’t include spending time with friends and family on turkey day, you can still talk via video chat or even a phone call. Studies show lower instances of anxiety and depression when we have strong relationships. As well as a stronger immune system and greater self-esteem.

If you can’t gather around the dinner table for Thanksgiving Day with your family, you can still be social via Skype, Zoom, Facebook Portal, or video call, and receive all the same mental health benefits!

17. Have a Sober Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving Weekend

Substance abuse is a big problem in our country, and even though drinking is a fun way to have a great time this holiday season, it isn’t always the best for our mental wellbeing.

Even though many practice a “Sober October” (going sober for the whole month of October”, you could adopt a “Sober November” instead.

Try going sober for the whole month of November, and work on replacing any negative thoughts that pop up with good things instead!

Mental Health Activities for Thanksgiving: Synopsis

Taking care of your mental health during the holidays is just as important, if not more important, than the rest of the year! The holidays are a time to celebrate and have fun with family and friends, but the stress of the season can be easily overwhelming.

Practicing gratitude on Thanksgiving, whether you are spending it with family, friends, or alone, will have profound effects on your state of being.

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