National Eating Disorders Association

5 Ways to Cope with a Post-Election Thanksgiving Dinner

Ilene V. Fishman, LCSW-R, ACSW

Thanksgiving is a time for counting your blessings and giving thanks with all the wonderful people in your life. However, this particular Thanksgiving can invite some unwanted political discussion. Ideological divides within families is unavoidable, but what isn’t is your ability to practice self-care, especially if you have been struggling to cope with emotions these past couple of weeks. Here are some tips on how to practice post-election self-care this coming Thursday.

1. Avoid normalization of impact

This past election season has impacted all of us in a lot of different ways, so it is understandable how frustrating it is to constantly hear how everything is going to be “okay.” Understand that everyone is struggling with different emotions that come in waves, it is important to realize that telling people to get over it is not an effective way to support them. Be supportive to all who are struggling and avoid situations where people try to normalize these feelings; instead, try validating how challenging this is.

2. Stand up for yourself and your views

In order to work past these emotions, one healthy way to cope is to stand up for your views, no matter how hard that may be. Understandably, during the holidays you’ll come across people with opposing views than yours, which is fine; but if their opinions start to disrespect you, your life, or your beliefs – do not be afraid to stand up for yourself. This can be done without starting a fight; rather, try explaining to those people your stance and your feelings, maybe your perspective is something they have yet to consider and you can help them realize how important or sensitive this situation is for you. It is also refreshing to be in a situation in which you can healthily express yourself.

3. Embrace this opportunity for finding your voice

Dealing with these emotions may be hard, but it does give us an opportunity to find our voice and create healthy boundaries with those around us. By expressing your voice and opinions, you will be able to properly understand your own emotions while creating external and mental boundaries. This will help us be conscious of our feelings and stay connected to ourselves. Also, it will help us separate ourselves from the negatives in life and embrace the positives. 

4. Reach out for support

When going through hard times like these, it is important to have a support group to reach out to if too many negative feelings come up. Whether that is friends, family members, or professionals, having that type of support will allow us to stay conscious and connected to ourselves. They will be understanding and provide positivity, which is extremely important when dealing with these feelings. 

5. Remove yourself from uncomfortable situations

When necessary, it is completely acceptable to remove yourself from any uncomfortable or distressing situations. If other people are being offensive toward you, your beliefs, or your emotions, it is okay to remove yourself from that situation. By staying away from the negative, you will be able to focus even more on the positive and keep those who are supportive close by. By simply excusing yourself from that room or conversation, you will be able to stay in a safe space.