By Teresa Blythe
Feeling addicted to political news and commentary? If so you’re not alone. You may need a spiritual detox from the ridiculous amount of information coming at you daily. You may need some help weaning yourself off watching your smartphone for breaking news. You probably need a break from clearing your email inbox of frantic requests for donations. Your system may need you to hit the reset button.
Here are five ways to detox from this election:
Vote early and get it over with. There are probably not going to be any surprises greater than what we’ve already learned about both candidates. Vote, be done with it, and let the stress go.
Take media breaks. Some people I know fast completely from media for a few days. Others are selective—they might watch the evening news but not spend hours on Facebook and Twitter. Reflect on what kind of media hypes you up the most and cut back on that. For me, it’s smartphone news updates. I’m going to have to disable those pesky notifications (that appeared without my consent) so that I’m not tempted to click on them every time I see the icon at the top of my phone. No more allowing smartphone news to ruin my lunch breaks!
Pray for all involved. Prayer is so much better for us than worrying or gnashing our teeth in anger. Our minds, bodies and spirits are much calmer when we choose contemplation over consternation. Jesus taught us to love and pray for our enemies, so if you feel one or more of the candidates is your enemy, pray for them.
Practice humility. It’s in short supply and the ripple effect of people laying down their proverbial “swords and shields” will help our nation heal, especially after the election is over. It’s healthy to admit that you don’t know everything and what you do know could be wrong. There is such a thing as unintended consequences. So no matter who is elected—no matter how much we love or loathe them—we have no idea how their actions or policies will actually play out in the future. Remembering that makes us humble.
Repeat after me—“all will be well.” Julian of Norwich’s famous saying applies here. Have faith that this election is not the end of the world! Have faith in the people of the United States to collectively make a decent choice. Have faith that our system—though far from perfect—has checks and balances aplenty and if it is broken (in many ways it is) we the people can move to fix it. If faith moves mountains, then let’s practice some of that faith and see what happens.
I also hope you have someone in your life you can go through this detox. It helps to have a good listener around when you need to vent your election frustrations. Don’t forget, spiritual directors are trained to listen—without judgment—as you reflect on all aspects of life. If you need the support, I hope you seek it out.
Teresa Blythe is an ordained United Church of Christ minister, and received an M.Div. and Diploma from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2000.
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