Bracing for a tense Thanksgiving with relatives


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Thanksgiving is known for bringing uncomfortable political discussions, especially in an election year.

Luke Brennan, Opinions Editor

After Halloween has come and gone, Americans typically shift their focus to Thanksgiving. At least, that’s what happens in a non-election year. The 2020 presidential election has caused a tremendous deal of anxiety for U.S. residents. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, nearly 70% of U.S. adults say the presidential election is a significant source of stress. No matter what the outcome is, experiencing Thanksgiving with relatives who hold vastly different political views than you is almost certain to create an uncomfortable holiday. Here are some tips to make your Thanksgiving as stress-free as possible.

First, as much as you can, keep the conversation away from politics. Whether it’s a new movie you want to see or a random fact about pumpkin pie, avoiding talking about politics altogether is the best way to ensure it doesn’t come up. Conversation starters are a great way to steer a discussion in a particular direction. has a page dedicated to conversation starters for the holidays, ranging from “what’s the best restaurant you’ve ever been to?” to “what holiday movie are you looking forward to seeing?”

Taking short breaks throughout the day can be very helpful as well. Stepping outside for five or 10 minutes to get some fresh air and taking a few deep breaths can help keep your anxiety levels down. Taking a walk around the block can also help you collect your thoughts and take your mind off the myriad of stressors Thanksgiving brings.

You can also plan a fun activity that keeps people’s minds occupied, such as watching a movie or sporting event together. As tempted as you might be to drown your stress in alcohol, this is not a good idea. Setting the health hazards aside, it’s likely to make you more aggressive and argumentative, which will only make the situation worse.

At the end of the day, America is like a family member; we didn’t choose them, but we’re stuck with them, so for yours and everyone else’s sake, try to keep things respectful. You don’t have to agree with them, but remaining calm and keeping things in perspective is your best chance of having a pleasant, or at least tolerable Thanksgiving.