Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP recently wrote an article for Aleteia outlining five ways to stay sane during this upcoming year of political endorsements and debates. Take some time to reflect on these five things and challenge yourself to create a sixth way to remain sane during this election year. How are you staying focused on this Lenten season despite the saturation of the election in our national news, Facebook newsfeeds and conversations among coworkers?
1. Avoid Worst-Case Scenarios
Often when I watch the news or catch up on politics, I immediately go to worst-case scenarios in my mind. I envision society crumbling. I begin to wonder if I should brush up on my survival skills. Learn the edible berries in my area. Save up some emergency supplies. Learn the art of camouflage and hunting. Move away from the convent and live in a yurt in Mongolia. Okay, I am exaggerating, but you get the point.
There is a reason the Bible is chock full of verses about not worrying. God knew it would be one of our greatest crosses we would carry as human beings. When one thinks worst-case scenario, it helps to ask oneself, Is there anything I can do about this? If there is, then do it. If there is not, then take some time away from the news, Facebook posts and other people who agitate and put you in a state of anxiety. Instead, go to adoration, read Matt. 6:25-34 and talk to Jesus.
“You are the Light of the world.” Matt. 5:14
2. Refuse to Dehumanize Other People
As Christians, we are called to be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). This light is God’s baptismal presence in us. Every person is a bearer of light, made in the image and likeness of God. When we tear down people rather than ideas we block the light.
One might argue that the people we are tearing down are barely human and so far from the light. This may or may not be true, but one thing is true — we block God’s grace in us when we mock, rip apart, and lob insults at other human beings. No matter how repugnant another person’s views are to us, it is important that we not dehumanize that person and ourselves in our response.
3. Take Time to Pray
I always lose my sanity when I am not praying enough. If you feel your anger boiling or fear bubbling up in you, take some time out to pray. Go, pour your heart out to Jesus. He is the only one who can change hearts and help us face uncertainty and lack of control with grace. He is the only one who can give us courage in situations that seem hopeless.
Plus, our nation needs prayers. More than tirades, incensed blog posts, Facebook arguments and combox sparring, our country needs your prayers.
4. Fast Periodically From Media
The Church sees the media as “gifts of God.” Social media, television and newspapers are gifts of God that can be used in accordance with his plan of salvation. But do we use them in accordance with God’s plan of salvation? Do my words and actions online lead others to Christ?
Media can overtake silence in our life and lead us to constant frenetic activity. When this happens, it might be helpful to take small breaks from media when we need some balance and sanity in our life. If you are feeling frazzled, cut some media time out and replace it with time with God. You won’t regret it.
5. Keep Your Sense of Humor
St. Philip Neri, known for his playful sense of humor and joy, once said, “Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life.” If we find that world events have made us feel grim and sour, then it certainly makes sense to ask ourselves what is robbing us of joy.
If we are allowing circumstances that are out of our control to steal our sense of humor and lightness of being, then it is a sign that something needs to change. It might help to ask your guardian angel to remind you to keep smiling throughout the day!