You don’t need me to tell you what level of crazy we’ve managed to reach in this election primary season, and honestly I don’t want to talk about any of it. I want to shove my fingers in my ears and sing “la la la la” in hopes that when I stop maybe life, politics, the 2016 election, and Twitter will have gone back to some semblance of normal.
But let’s face it. We can’t just shove our heads in the sand, and our kids, spouses, and coworkers would lock us up if we went around singing to ourselves. Instead, here are a few socially acceptable distractions that are perhaps even good for you.
1. Go to the Dentist
I’m well overdue for a cleaning, which is mainly because I find it hard to schedule this appointment when I’m already having to take time off work for regular prenatal appointments and the occasional sick child. It’s not always a pleasant experience, especially if you need any kind of restorative work done or you have the type of hygienist who seems to take sick pleasure in asking you questions you can’t answer and making you fall out of your chair when she stabs you in the gums with that pokey torture device. Still, I’d take that over the latest poll numbers.
Maybe you’re not due for a cleaning and your teeth are perfectly spic and span. Kudos to you, over-achiever. Still, you know you could floss more. No one likes to floss his teeth. It’s a pain. It’s obnoxious. It’s about as much fun as watching golf. Yet it will keep you busy for at least a few minutes so you can avoid perusing the news.
Most of us are wanting to do this anyway, and in moderation it can be both enjoyable and distracting. However, if you can’t drink due to pregnancy, gave up drinking to lose weight, or don’t trust yourself to stay within healthy limits, then just skip this one. Your liver—and friends, spouse, wallet—will thank you.
4. Take Up Knitting
I hear this is a rather relaxing hobby, although I personally wouldn’t know, as those needles seem nothing short of magical to me in that one can simply sit for a few hours (or days… maybe weeks?) and turn a pile of yarn into something beautiful and comforting. I could use something comforting right now.
5. Learn to Brew
If knitting isn’t really your style, there are other hobbies to pursue, like home brewing. This one takes a bit more capital to get started, but the fruits of your labor can lead to an abundance of joy in your pint glass. It’s a great opportunity to get friends together, make new friends, or simply pour yourself into something other than the world’s craziness.
6. Binge on Netflix
We’re probably all doing this in some form anyway, but what better way to forget the problems of reality than to get lost in an alternate one on the screen? There’s something for everyone here, too. The ’90s-nostalgic are probably already drooling over the “Full House” reboot, while sci-fi fans who have somehow managed to avoid developing seizures from J.J. Abram’s use of lens flares can catch all seasons of “Fringe.” For the crime drama fan who likes a bit of humor thrown in, I recommend “iZombie,” although there may not be enough episodes currently available to make it worth starting.
My husband and I have been binging on the reboot of “Hawaii 5-0,” but we may have to stop, as the characters’ stupid choices by season three have made my husband as angry with that as he is at actual news. The nice thing about Netflix: if you start a show that sucks, you can easily flip to something different—and hopefully better.
7. Get Outside
Sometimes what we really need is a breath of fresh air. Literally. Step into the sunshine. Take a walk. Look out at the ocean. Stare up at the sky (just not into the sun). Your corneas are not the enemy. Even on stormy days, that smack of icy Wyoming wind that blows you into oncoming traffic might actually be refreshing after watching another primary debate.
8. Lend a Hand
Get your butt out there and do some good. Yeah. You. Volunteer at church—trust me, even if they don’t smile when you offer, they do appreciate the help. Walk dogs at the local shelter, or foster one! Tutor neighborhood kids. Donate items to the local crisis pregnancy center. Make dinner for an older neighbor or a new mom. Take a friend out for coffee and really listen to how he or she is doing. There’s a way to help out in your community, and it doesn’t have to be about politics, nor does it have to be a grand gesture.
9. Get Thee to Church
One of the best ways to get away from the muck of earthly politics is to focus on the divine. Hear God’s word. Receive his sacraments. Sit in that pew. Listen. Receive. Learn. Ask questions. Attend Bible study. Set up meetings with your pastor to talk about whatever theological questions you’re chewing on. I bet he’d enjoy that!
10. Spend Time With Family
Your family may be you, your spouse, and a brood of kids, or it may be just you and your cat. This is a judgment-free zone. Whether your family is the folks in the pew with you or the guys at the bar, a large group of cousins or just your parents, spending quality time with them can be a healthy and worthwhile distraction from whatever is hitting the fan politically. Bust out a board game. Cook a meal together. Travel. Laugh. Talk.
Just maybe stay away from political topics.