Family and friends are learning how to safely social distance themselves in order to spend the summer together. We are looking forward to enjoying the warmer weather and the many celebrations to come or celebrating the ones we missed during quarantine.
We have all lived through a lot these last couple of months and everyone has their opinion on politics. Regardless of your political leanings, the stress of politics is likely to come up during these gatherings. To better prepare for these joyous gatherings, brace yourself to take the high road in the upcoming scenarios that may occur (reprinted from "How To Survive (And Even Enjoy) Thanksgiving Dinner and Politics by Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D.).
Scenario 1: Everyone Agrees NOT to Talk Politics
There are plenty of other conversations to have with your family that go beyond politics. Make a pact to leave politics at the front door and out of the home. Instead of arguing, indulge in the following to get your minds off it:
Movies: Talk about the latest popular films/Netflix binges and discuss what you liked most about them. Encourage interest in others that didn’t think they needed to see it.
Music: Distract everyone with beach or luau themed music. Keep a playlist ready to go to maintain the spirit of summer.
Embrace family history: Bring out the old family photo album and reminisce about the past. Share fond memories of those that have passed and ask everyone about their favorite family memories.
Plan to have fun:
Games: Bring games that all ages can enjoy. Pull out all the outside games - bean bag toss, badminton and even board games like checkers.
Crafts: Plan a craft station. There are plenty of quick and easy crafts that can be created with minimal supplies.
Scenario 2: Everyone Talks About It and the World Doesn’t End
Prepare yourself mentally: You may not agree with a friend or family member on a topic they bring up, but you don’t have to argue about it. If you know that politics will be a hot topic at the family table, prepare yourself to react rationally. If you’re already expecting an opposition or argument, practice how you will respond and plan to diffuse a conflicting conversation to make it easier to move onto another topic.
We can’t control what others say or do, but we can control how we react: Make the mindful decision to stay positive and not let others influence you or ruin your day.
Confide in someone that you trust: You’re probably not alone in your thoughts and feelings. Confide in a relative or friend you can trust to have an honest conversation with. If you have to say something, say it to them and vice versa. Don’t bottle up your feelings or let them get the best of you in a heated situation.
Keep an open mind: Be respectful and listen. Listen to other opinions and resist the urge to lash out if yours oppose theirs. Even if you don’t agree with someone, it may not be worth it to go to war with your grandfather on a political matter. Accept their ideals, agree to disagree, and move on.
If things are heating up, take a break: Don’t hesitate to leave early or take a break from the conversations. Once the meal is finished, try to separate from those that you’re arguing with. Take the time to spend time playing a game with a younger family member or even take the family dog out for a walk. Use this time to cool off and re-enter with your original positive outlook.
Try to be kind, control the urge to argue, and remember the blessings of being able to finally see each other after many months of quarantine.
Stay healthy and safe this summer,
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To help support our community, we are offering a 15% discount for new patients that are interested in getting started with tele-health to help manage feelings of anxiety and isolation during this time.
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood, Hoboken, NYC, Jersey City and Englewood. . He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.