Gratitude, Culture, and Food: Being Kind to Yourself During Thanksgiving

November 22, 2022

Thanksgiving can be a time that brings up a lot of feelings for people. Be kind to yourself and the people around you!


Thanksgiving often brings up thoughts about gratitude. While just noticing your gratitude makes a difference, you can add benefit to the people around you by expressing gratitude to them. Encourage people around the dinner table to share a story of when they were grateful for someone at the meal. 

You can also write about gratitude, and jot down the little moments of your day that make you feel grateful. If you want to bring this idea to Thanksgiving, create a gratitude tree or jar for everyone to use, or write gratitude postcards to people who are far away. You could also make a collage, Reel, or TikTok to visually express gratitude

However you notice and/or share - take time this holiday to experience gratitude. 


Your family may have traditions that you invoke for Thanksgiving. Cherish the ones that bring you joy, and don't be afraid to suggest new ways of doing things this holiday to move away from activities that no longer serve you.

Remember that the history around Thanksgiving is complex. Thanksgiving can be a reminder of the genocide and violence that Native communities experienced and continue to experience. Decolonize your Thanksgiving by learning about, listening to, and celebrating Native people.


For many of us, food is central to our holiday. Try to make food a positive experience for everyone this holiday. If you talk about food, focus on the wonderful flavors of the season and gratitude for the land, workers, and chef who helped bring the food to the table. Use mindful eating strategies:

  • Stick to normal eating habits, eating consistently and mindfully throughout the day. 
  • Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're full.
  • Be present during meals. Slow down and notice how the food tastes. Feel the pleasure and satisfaction in the eating experience.
  • Add foods, don't subtract. All foods fit into healthy eating! Consider how to add nutrient-filled and diverse foods into your body.

Health Care and Mental Health

While Campus Health is closed on Thursday 11/24 through Sunday 11/27, students may visit a local urgent care facility for health needs. Students may also call Campus Health at 919-966-2281 24/7 and be connected to UNC Nurse Connect to discuss their non-emergent health concerns. Students can call CAPS 24/7 at 919-966-3658 for mental health support.

Don’t forget to explore the rest of the Heels Care Network for a comprehensive collection of mental health and well-being resources, including peer support, helpful articles, information about support groups, online self-assessment tools, events and more. 

May your Thanksgiving be full of experiences for which to be grateful. 

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