How to Manage Your Mood Around Your Mother-in-Law This Thanksgiving

How to Manage Your Mood Around Your Mother-in-Law This Thanksgiving

Cooking turkeys causing anxiety? You’re not alone. If family gatherings have you crawling up the wall, consider some of these mood and stress management techniques. 

It’s no secret that holiday gatherings can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Or worse, they can feel like 3 straight days of walking on eggshells. 

In our experience, good preparation and self care is as important to a smooth holiday weekend as remembering to pack your stretchy pants. 

Practicing Empathy

Try to understand other people’s perspectives—even if they don’t at all resemble your own. I’m not saying you have to agree, but it can help you navigate those tricky conversations and see others in their humanity. 

Keep in mind that no one is 100% of any one trait. People that are snippy are sometimes patient and compassionate. People who are lazy most of the time are sometimes determined. 

As you navigate your interpersonal relationships, keep in mind that every person is an amalgam of experiences, decisions, strengths, and weaknesses. If you find yourself becoming annoyed, ask yourself: Am I summing this person up too quickly? Or are they more complex? Why are they behaving that way or saying those things?

Taking Care of Your Needs

Put yourself first for a change. Prioritize getting 7–9 hours of sleep in the days prior to spending the weekend with family. If mood management supplements help you, make sure you pack them. These are our favorites. 

Sometimes you have to manage emotions on the fly. If you’re in a pinch, a brisk walk, or simply locking yourself in the bathroom for a few quiet moments of meditation can do wonders. Above all, make sure that you take responsibility for your own emotional needs before entering a situation where others might not have much grace or validation to give. 

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty gravy boat.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Emotions are easier to deal with when we aren’t juggling logistical stress on top of them. So plan ahead. Divide tasks, set realistic expectations, and make a to-do list for packing, traveling, and activities with family. Thanksgiving should be about giving thanks, not stressing over the details.

Navigating Thanksgiving Day

When the big day arrives, keep a cool head by showing interest in other people’s lives. Ask questions that show your interest, respect boundaries (that’s a big one), and build others up. Redirect conversations away from contentious topics and focus on what you’re grateful for. It’s hard to argue when everyone’s feeling thankful.

Reflecting Post-Thanksgiving

After the feast is over, take a moment to reflect. What went well? What didn’t? What can you learn from it? Every Thanksgiving can be a chance to improve your relationships. Maybe jot a few notes in your phone on how to make next year run more smoothly.


Thanksgiving with your mother-in-law doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster. By improving communication, practicing empathy, and taking care of yourself, you can make the day more about gratitude and less about grumbling—passive aggressive or otherwise. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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