11/25/2013 12:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Thanksgiving Escapes: 5 Productive Ways to Avoid Feeling Cooped Up This Year

Thanksgiving is a time for relaxation, reconnecting with long lost family members, and turkey-induced naps. Let's face it though -- sometimes the natural nesting of this holiday, and all winter days, frankly, can turn any reveler into a grouch.

Idle hands can lead us down unwanted roads too (Real Housewives marathon, anyone?), so we wanted to share some options to lose the holiday blahs, but with a positive twist. Whether you want to escape alone (no judgment here) or you want the whole family to join you on an excursion, here are five ways you can productively head out into the world this Thanksgiving to break the cabin fever:

Self Improvement

The best way to pass the time (during any part of the year) is through exercise. You can achieve goals, stay in shape, feel better, and look better, naturally, by engaging in some sort of physical activity during Thanksgiving.

You know that the holiday season leads the year in busted guts, so counteract that negative process with constant exercise. A few ways to motivate yourself to train is by signing up for a "Turkey Trot," creating a work out calendar, or incentivizing yourself with a Christmas gift for a certain amount of workouts completed.

If you have young children, be an active participant in their youth sports as either a coach or a volunteer.

Catch a Flick

Movie studios save their best films for two specific times: summer and holidays. The weather, the company, and the time off from work all coincide to make Thanksgiving an ideal time to head to your local theater. Seriously, when was the last time you went to see a movie that wasn't OnDemand or on Netflix? Order a large popcorn (extra butter), buy a jumbo box of Reese's Pieces, and enjoy.

Here is a list of the movies opening around Thanksgiving:

November 22 (Friday)
Delivery Man
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (in IMAX)

November 27 (Wednesday - Thanksgiving)
Black Nativity
Frozen (in 3D)
Out of the Furnace (Limited Release)

November 29 (Friday)
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Limited Release)

Destination Vacation

A classic way to get out of the house during Thanksgiving is to literally get away -- as in, vacation. After the 10th straight year of arguing with your spouse about the "right" way to cook a turkey and the looming disaster of another holiday spent with your wild in-laws, some beach time sounds ideal.

Forget about hosting or cooking or anything strenuous and let the resort take care of all of that. Another option is to stay at a vacation rental, either at a tropical destination or a city you've been dying to explore. Either way, break out from your normal Thanksgiving routine and spent this year abroad. By staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel, you could still host Thanksgiving dinner and have the comfort and privacy of home.

Give Back

During the time of year where we reflect on all we have to be thankful for, charity work stands as a wonderful way to help others be thankful too. Spend time donating to or working at your local food pantry, hand out meals at a soup kitchen, or sift through old clothes to donate to the Salvation Army. Research charitable organizations in your area and pitch in to help make the world a better place.

Shop 'til You Drop: Black Friday

If you ignore the taboos and the preconceptions about this faux holiday, it actually can be a boatload of fun. The sales really are staggering, and you can be done with your holiday shopping by early December if you handle this day correctly.

Map out your route, have a specific item in mind (don't browse when you're in each store), and park far away to avoid the busy lots if you can. Avoid bringing along very small children or the elderly as they could slow down progress at best, or be hurt in a stampede at worst.

Follow your favorite brands on social media and sign up for store email newsletters to get the early word on the early bird specials featured on Black Friday.