Please pass the candied yams and the blinding rage.
Happy holidays and welcome to Thunderdome.
Two things that are often fraught, awkward, difficult, and maddening:
a) Talking about politics
b) Holiday family time
This year it's tough to know where one ends and the other begins.
That's why BuzzFeed Health reached out to clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World, Colorado based clinical psychologist Stephanie Smith, and NYC-based psychotherapist and marriage counselor, Jean Fitzpatrick, PhD, to get their advice on how to deal with intense family time coming right on the heels of a super contentious election.
Know your role going in.
Way before you walk in the door, take some time to think about what you want your role to be in whatever discussions and arguments you're anticipating, Bonior tells BuzzFeed Health.
If you tend to be your family's peacekeeper and mediator in general, know that you might be expected to fulfill those duties when the political talk starts. Mediating might be a great way to avoid having to take sides and do battle, or it could be a totally draining way to spend your holiday. If you are someone who tends to throw themselves into debates and actually get really excited about them, think about whether that's likely to hold true at this particular time.
There's no right or wrong answer about choosing a role. The trick, says Bonior, is to think in advance about what's going to work for you so that you can make a game plan for yourself.
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Consider setting some ground rules ahead of time in a group email/text/call.
One way to get everyone on the same page before the day of is to attempt some ground rules for talking politics, says Bonior. You can suggest allowing a specific window of time for election-related discussion, say no longer than 30 or 45 minutes. Or maybe only during the first part of the night when people are having their first drink and picking at appetizers. Or perhaps once the third bottle of wine comes out, the election talk comes to an end.
You can also set other ground rules — perhaps someone who's always impartial can mediate, everyone can agree to not raise their voice, etc.
Don’t use the holiday get together as an opportunity to unload all your pent up anger and frustration about the election.
Feeling anger and anxiety isn't bad, but understand that if those emotions are overwhelming you, it may be best to avoid having political conversations for the time being.
So although it may seem like the perfect time to school your relatives all in one go, it's likely not going to be beneficial if it's coming from a place of pent up anger and frustration.
“If you're already feeling anxiety and rage before even starting the conversation, then it's not going to end well, and you should consider going for a walk, working out, or anything that will help you relax a bit,” Fitzpatrick says.
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