Story by: Nikki Boyd on November 26, 2019
Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together to celebrate the bounty of the season, reconnect and express gratitude for life’s many blessings. It’s much more than turkey, football and parades.
Here are some ideas for Thanksgiving traditions you can start doing with your family to keep them healthy and happy beyond the holiday season.
Family mealtime has many benefits for family members, including parents, children and teens. According to the American College of Pediatricians, research shows that family meals can help foster healthier eating habits, less obesity, better family communication, fewer behavioral issues, less television watching, less stress, better school performance and a lower risk of substance abuse.
After gathering around the table this Thanksgiving, think about making family mealtime a routine all year. Families who share meals most days of the week reap the most benefits. To create a “family table,” The American College of Pediatricians suggests these tips:
Regularly expressing gratitude is linked to increased levels of happiness.
“Gratitude helps people feel more connected to others, value their life and good experiences, handle adversity and improve their overall well-being,” said Katy Hopkins, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist with Norton Children’s Medical Group. “This includes feeling gratitude for past experiences and current blessings, and feeling hopeful and optimistic for the future.”
Thanksgiving is a great time to start a conversation around gratitude and how important it is to express gratitude every day. Here are a few ideas to get the conversation started:
Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness provides resources to help you and your child build healthy habits. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness is supported by the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Thanksgiving can be a time of overindulgence at the dinner table. Get your family moving to burn off excess energy. Organize a family hike, sign up for a family fun run or, instead of watching football on TV, have your own fun, friendly game in the backyard.
If you have younger kids (and kids at heart), play GoNoodle, a free fitness website that gets you dancing and moving.
There are many opportunities to volunteer in our community, particularly during the holiday season. Helping others provides many benefits to mental health and well-being.
“Giving back to others, whether through relationships or through community and volunteer opportunities, can have significant positive impacts on well-being,” Dr. Hopkins said.
Research shows that giving back can help people feel more connected to others and their community, as well as help prevent feelings of loneliness and depression.
Nikki Boyd is coordinator, health and wellness programs, with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness.