Have a strategy: Surviving the post-election holidays

It's important to set the ground rules for yourself before the holiday gathering begins

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published November 23, 2016 10:59PM (EST)

 (<a href='https://www.shutterstock.com/g/leisuretime70'>leisuretime70</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(leisuretime70 via Shutterstock/Salon)

You wouldn't go out in the snow without a coat. You wouldn't leave your garage with an empty tank of gas. This Thanksgiving you need to similarly don your armor and fuel your spirit to mentally and emotionally prepare for whatever goes down over the holiday weekend. Salon spoke recently with psychologist and author Jeff Gardere for some practical advice on surviving this already stressful and fraught postelection season in the intensified days to come. 

As Gardere noted, it's going to be nearly impossible to not have "some real discussions during this holiday season" as we come face-to-face, maybe for the first time since the election, with our family and neighbors. But he advised that we can minimize stress with an action plan before the Turkey Day madness descends: "It's important that we lay the ground rules out for ourselves," he said, like "sitting down at the kitchen table in the morning and laying out the dos and don'ts. It's being able to walk into the situation prepared." 

To minimize conflict, Gardere, an assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, recommended having a "buddy system" so that if one person is becoming heated or feels attacked, an ally at the gathering can intervene to deflect and defuse. He said we should make sure to have a "real exit strategy" for when we need to give ourselves a time out. Ultimately, Gardere also reminded us that even difficult encounters are still encounters with the people we call family and friends and that can be "mind expanding." Just remember that the first step to having a better holiday is writing a more positive script in your head now. 

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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