How to Survive an Election

Elections drive everyone insane. Here are some survival tips.

Now that’s the right attitude.

You’re sitting there, bored, procrastinating, doing whatever it is you do that leads to you mindlessly tap on that Facebook app. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. At this point it’s ingrained in our DNA, an involuntary reflex like breathing, blinking, or adding bacon for $2. We go looking for something new or interesting to fill the void.

But there’s nothing new or interesting popping up on social media or the news channels these days. It’s all politics. It’s all Election 2016.

Too literal?

Not to say politics aren’t important, of course they are. This election could change the course of human history on issues like climate change, war, education, and many others, so it’s definitely important. But by and large, what you end up seeing on Facebook or Twitter isn’t interesting or important, it’s preaching to the choir, an angry/lewd/unhelpful rant, a biased slant piece from a biased slant rag, or all three rolled into one dumpster fire burrito.

So, how do you stay sane and safe in this hysterical hurricane? How do you give a shit about what’s going on, without giving that shit the keys to your cool, calm, and collected castle?

Here are some mindfulness-ish coping mechanisms to help you survive the next few weeks:

#1… Mindfulness! “Yeah yeah, obvious answer Mr. Mindful Journeyman,” you bellow. But hey, it works. When the well of emotions begins to overflow, simply identify it, breathe, accept, and watch how they all start to seem a little more manageable. It’s a simple mind trick that makes it all feel less cray cray.

Outside is the best side.

#2… Be respectful! Obvious answer again, but it seems hardly anyone remembers it. Believe it or not, it is possible to talk about politics without being a dick, even on social media. I swear you guys! Make an effort to accept that everyone has a different frame of reference and their own set of opinions. Learn to debate your differences, respectfully.

#3… Get outside! People have been using nature to get out of their heads for centuries. I use it all the time. If you spend enough time in a peaceful environment, some of that peace is bound to rub off on you. And nature is pretty much everywhere, all you have to do is step out your front door.

#4… Sleep! Studies show getting a good night’s sleep lowers stress. Bonus: a long nap might make you sleep through a few self-righteous political Facebook posts!

#5… Meditate! I’ll call this the advanced method, not because it’s complicated, but because even with all my proclamations around mindfulness I suck at it. It’s difficult for me to switch my mind off for a second, let alone 10 minutes, but whenever I finally do press pause I immediately feel a thousand times better. Pro tip: try the Buddhify app or listen to the free UCLA MARC meditation lectures for a boost.

All smiles.

#6… Exercise! The physical benefits of exercise is obvious, but there are mental benefits to moving your body too. It reduces your chance of depression, helps you sleep better, sharpens your critical thinking skills, and any runner out there will tell you how great that rush of endorphins feels. Bonus points if you combine #3 and #6 for a double dose.

#7… Distraction! As an amateur mindfulness guru, I hate even suggesting this. My hope is we can all be present in the real complicated world without letting it complicate us. But the real world kinda sucks lately, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Play a video game, watch a movie, binge watch Stranger Things (again), read a pulpy book, or hell even read People magazine — if it helps you forget the political woes of the world for a minute, go for it. Bonus: as you re-binge you can reevaluate your odd obsession with Barb. Seriously. Please.

#8… Alcohol! Aka, liquid distraction! There were moments in the last debate when I wanted to dive into my bottle of Jameson. That’s extreme, I know, so please definitely don’t overdo it. However, throwing back a few with your friends after work instead of arguing with your second cousin on Facebook about the Cheeto’s latest outburst? Totally acceptable. Bonus: booze significantly increases your snark rating, which everyone appreciates!

#9… Dog and cat videos! Aka, adora-distraction! I grew up with cats but my partner is allergic so now we have a dog. The benefit of that is now I’m allowed to watch amazing videos from both sides of the pet divide! Watch and smile for a minute.

You gotta have ____.

#10… Friends! Aka, distraction book-ended with hugs! Friends are great, especially the bestie ones. Schedule a lunch, a brunch, a hike, a pottery class, a doggie play date, a Starbucks gab session, whatever. Just spend some time with people who make you feel good inside. Pro tip: #10 can be easily combined with #1–9, literally every number on this list. And if friend-naps aren’t thing, let’s make it a thing.

This list is by no means comprehensive, it’s just a few of the things I do to keep my sanity during an election season. If you have more tips to share, please share, just remember #2.

Stay sane, my friends.