6 Ways to De-Stress at the Dinner Table

Make mealtime a relaxing oasis for one, two, or the whole family.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

By Louise Chang, MD

What's dinnertime like at your place?

Maybe "dinner" consists of lukewarm takeout, eaten alone in front of the TV while you surf the Internet and answer email. Or perhaps the eat-and-run dinners you share with your spouse or partner barely leave you time to say "hello" and "goodbye" to each other. Or maybe your kitchen is starting to resemble a fast-food restaurant, with family members coming in and out and grabbing a bite between activities.

While the dinner hour once represented a calm oasis from the day's storm, experts say today it's often anything but relaxing.

"We're hurried, we're harried, we've turned up the volume of our lives to such a high number that we often can't even see how stressed we are. And we almost never see how we bring that stress to the dinner table, a place where traditionally we sought relaxation and comfort," says Mimi Donaldson, a stress and time management expert.

With blaring TVs, ringing cell phones and "You've got mail!" chiming in the background, in some homes the dinner hour is every bit as stressful as the rest of the day, says Donaldson, co-author of the book Bless Your Stress: It Means You're Still Alive.