Today—Tuesday, November 3rd—is a day not to live through but to endure, a day of acute election anxiety that must be managed in the hopes we can get to this on the other side.
We asked our readers for suggestions on how to keep their sanity before, during, and after results roll in. As John Lennon once said, “What ever gets you through the night, it’s all right, it’s all right.”
Election Anxiety Distractions
So here we go with the suggestions:
1. Binge The West Wing
One school of thought is it could make you feel worse, since…you know…a president that isn’t crazy and all that. But Karen Landry Hetzler gives it a thumbs up. “It’s amazing how well it has held up over the years,” she says. “I just get lost in each episode.” Other highly recommended binges: The Crown, Schitt’s Creek, The Queen’s Gambit,
2. Rage cleaning
That’s what Kate Sheldon is doing. And hey, she’ll get something out of her distraction method: A sparkling house.
3. Work on getting out the vote
It’s too late to sign up for anything organized (but kudos to those who are helping out). But it’s not too late to remind family members, neighbors, people in the supermarket line, your UPS driver. Oh, and you have a special obligation to get after your grown children.
4. Watch the New York Times‘ Election Distractor
You know things are bad when the distinguished Gray Lady offers a digital pacifier to the world that feels like an extended Teletubbies segment, which is by no means a bad thing. Now if they could only have figured a way for a hand to come out from the screen to pet our weary heads.
5. Get better at something
Mindy Greenstein says, “Start a Coursera class on any subject you’ve always wanted to explore.” Do they have a class on leading a revolution? That may come in handy.
6. Get lost
Go on a hike—the farther from cell service the better—or do what Deborah Hamilton Lynne is going to do and walk a labyrinth. “There are several churches that have labyrinths,” she says, “And it’s a good time to explore the practice and walk your first one.” Think of the labyrinth as a metaphor for the past four years, and it’s all been a good exercise to improve the country’s collective mind and soul. But if you truly get lost in the labyrinth, then, uh, stop thinking of it as a metaphor. It means nothing…except that you’re not very good at labyrinths.
7. Practice a language
You may need it if you’re set on fleeing the country if the results don’t roll your way. Sunny Lipko reports she is doubling up on her Spanish lessons, and as someone who has studied Spanish her whole adult life (and also left the country over bad election results in 2004), the most important Spanish word anyone needs to know right now is pendejo. Just repeat that whenever you see a photo of a certain orange someone on the screen. There you go.
Help out at a food bank, at a shelter. Hand out water bottles to the homeless. “It’s time to get out of my head,” says Karen Evans Collier, “and focus on doing something good for someone else.”
Many readers sent in this idea, though of course it’s kind of obvious, no? I mean, isn’t that what we’ve been doing since March?
A friend I’ll be spending election night with has already started baking and is sending me photos of every stage of her pavlova. With the popularity of the Great British Baking Show, I’m pretty sure many of us will be covered in flour today. But Leah Ingram has a specific purpose for her baking. “I’m having cake for breakfast on Wednesday,” she says. “I’ll either be sheet caking it, like in 2016, or celebrating.” Forget what sheet caking is? Oh, wow. The past few years have really messed with your mind. Click here for a refresher. You’re welcome.
11. Do some handiwork
Channel all that disquiet through your hands, as one woman did here for her Tiny Pricks Project. “I recently took up knitting again,” Melanie Howard says, “but am afraid to trust myself with sharp objects during the returns.” Good point. Safety glasses??
12. Have sex; lots of it, if you can
Several of you wrote in that this is what you’ll be doing, you lucky dogs. But Laura Zam was very specific: “Having an orgasm while thinking of a Biden win.” Yes, that concept is orgasmic, with or without any physical help.
13. Move, move, move
When I’m anxious, one of the best cures is to sweat out the stress. So I’ll be going on a very loooong bike ride, which happens to start and end near a polling place. After I finish, I’ll drive past all those waiting in line to vote with my Biden/Harris sign in the window. “I just scheduled an extra (virtual) workout session with my trainer,” Paula Derrow reports. “For one hour, at least, I will be doing something distracting and healthy.”
14. Stay centered and still
Many of us will spend part of the day doing yoga, or breathwork, or meditating, or all of the above. “Yoga first thing in the morning and I’ll see where the Zen takes me,” says Kim Cihlar. Because Kim teaches our NextTribe yoga classes, I’ll give her a pass on using the word Zen in reference to election day. Following your Zen on election day is as inconceivable to me as levitating out of a tornado’s path.
15. Make music
This is the time you wish you had a set of drums. Nothing seems more appealing right now than banging out the anger like Phil Collins in “In the Air Tonight.” But if you have an instrument and can play it (really, even if you can’t play it at this point), grind out some notes. Sing. Dance. Howl.
16. Sugar; chocolate especially
“There’s all the Halloween candy that didn’t go out,” says Melanie Howard.
17. Spoil yourself
Massages, manis and pedis have all been suggested as a way to get through the day. But personally I’m not a fan of this one. It feels like something Ivanka will be doing today.
18. Dive into a book
That’s how Christine Osborne will be spending some of her day, with all devices turned off. “My attention to the drama won’t change the outcome,” she says. “I will need positive energy for whatever lies ahead.”
I for one will be down on my knees for some part of the day. It doesn’t seem possible that God can ignore the hundreds of millions of people on this planet asking for deliverance. I believe in the power of prayer, to any version of a higher power one understands. I witnessed how fervent prayer healed a friend’s husband who was so sick with COVID that even the ICU nurses call him their miracle. Now, I’m hoping prayer on a different scale can cure the sickness that lives in a white structure in Washington D.C. Please stop for a few minutes (or more) to make your heartfelt plea, and ask others to do the same.
Oh, But Wait…
Some of you actually have big cojones. Some of you are not trying to hide from the news. Some of you are saying “Bring it on.” And we salute you. “Distract?” says Meredith Serra. “I will be mainlining MSNBC and other sites, looking for any signs of hope on the horizon.”
Jane Heller reports that trying to distract herself would only make her more anxious. “Might as well confront it head on,” she says. And Valerie Frankel makes a good point, but dang, I wish it weren’t true. “We distract ourselves every day,” she observes. “On this one day, maybe we shouldn’t.”