5 ways to maintain your sanity this election season

August 4th, 2016

The 2016 presidential election may go down as the craziest election in American political history. Regardless of whom you plan on voting for, I think we can all agree that this election has been, um, unique and not unique in a this-is-a-uniquely-beautiful-beach-can-I-stay-here-forever kind of way. No, this election season is much more along the lines of “Is it over yet? Please say it’s over. I can’t handle much more of this insanity.”

Sadly, we have 3 months of this craziness left — just enough time to completely lose your mind. But fear not! I’m here to help with five things you can try that will go a long way toward maintaining your sanity ‘til November and beyond.

1. Unplug From Social Media

There used to be a time before social media existed. It was glorious. People with vastly different opinions could remain friends even though they disagreed with one another because there wasn’t a forum for constantly shoving each other’s face in whatever you disagreed with. Sure, there were fewer videos showing you how to make delicious looking food in 20 seconds or less, but it was nice being able to befriend people without worrying about what crazy link they were going to share on Facebook on any given day. We may not be able to return to that blessed time, but if you can find the courage and strength to unplug from social media until November it will go a long way toward keeping your sanity…and your friends.

2. Find Your Happy Place (And Go There Often)

Everyone has his or her own happy place. It may be a physical location or just a state of mind we wander to in our daydreams. Regardless of the form it takes, a happy place can work wonders for your state of mind. My happy place is the television show The Office. I know I can never hang out with Michael Scott and company in real life, but in the mangled words of Axl Rose, binge watching their “lives” takes me away to that special place where everything is as fresh as the bright blue sky. It doesn’t matter how terrible my real life is going, if I can escape to Scranton, PA for just an episode or two it makes all my other troubles fade away. If ever there was an election season in which we needed to escape reality, surely it’s this one. So find your happy place and go there as often as you can between now and November.

3. Spend Time With People On The Other Side Of The Aisle Without Talking Politics

I know, I know. Spending time with people on the other side of the aisle seems kind of antithetical to the goal of keeping your sanity during the election season, but hear me out. As I said before, in the days before social media these sorts of friendships were possible because we could go our entire lives without having to perpetually stare down our friends’ crazy opinions and fight about them online, then go out of our way to ignore each other offline. We could remain friends because we knew that people are more than the sum of their political opinions. We could spend quality time, even sometimes wonderful time, with people we disagreed with because that time we spent together prevented us from stripping them of their humanity and reducing them to nothing more than a link of Facebook we can’t believe they shared. This election season, try spending time with folks on the other side of the aisle without talking politics. If you do and you can begin to see them as more than just a link that made you angry, it may do more than just maintain your sanity this election season: it may restore your faith in humanity and maybe even make you a new friend or two.

4. Donate Yourself To Your Community

One of the biggest threats to our sanity during any election season is the prospect (and often sad reality) that nothing is going to change no matter who gets elected. Republican or Democrat, it seems like it doesn’t matter who’s in office. The more candidates change the more they stay the same and so voting begins to feel like you’re beating your head against the wall; and as we all know, repeated blows to the head are not good for your sanity. So this election season, do what Gandhi never actually said and be the change you want to see in the world. Sure, you may not be able to change the world, but being and seeing even small positive changes in your own community can go a long way towards maintaining your sanity this fall and beyond.

5. Make Your Devotional Life A Priority

You’re reading an article on a Christian website, so you had to see “pray and read your Bible” coming from a million miles away, but cliché as it may be, making your devotional life a priority can go a long way towards maintaining your sanity anytime of year — especially during an election season like this one wherein the present is so chaotic and the future seems, well, less than hopeful. Chuck Colson once said, “The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that's where our hope is in this country. And that's where our hope is in life.”

I couldn’t agree more, and, as much of a Sunday School answer as it may be, there are few better ways to be reminded of where our hope comes from (and in the process maintain our sanity) than to devote time each and every day to praying and reading scripture. In doing so, we not only carve out moments of much needed peace in our chaotic lives, we find a daily reminder of where our hope is found in this life and the next.

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