Sneed Collard

Many people I know have expressed trepidation and anxiety about the arrival of election year 2024. I share their concerns. The outcome of the election could lead to the loss of our democracy, the end of meaningful progress on climate change, the loss of more of our personal freedoms, and the erosion of national security if we stop supporting Ukraine, Taiwan, and other democracies.

Staying sane in such a scenario can be a challenge, but even as election year craziness unfolds, we each need to place a top priority on maintaining our mental health. Here are some strategies to help:

* Stop watching politically-oriented cable news and listening to similar talk radio. Most of these outlets foment opinions, not news. Their owners care much more about advertising dollars and power than they do about you or the future of our country. They are experts at picking and manipulating selected facts to give false impressions of what’s going on in the world. Instead of feeding their destructive agendas, do a search on “Most Reliable News Sources” and focus on those.

* Try to limit your exposure even to legitimate national and international news to a couple times a week. It’s important to stay informed, but as a rule, you do not need to bombard yourself with information every day—or hour—to keep up with what’s going on.

* Seek out good news as well as bad. Even legitimate newspapers and news stations emphasize bad news because they know it gets our attention. In the process, it gives us a false sense of doom and gloom—and doesn’t represent all of the good things going on in the world. Simply run a search “Sources of Good News” and several options will pop up.

* Find good candidates that care about the future of Montana and our nation and, if you can swing it, send them donations. This year, we have great candidates who are working hard to support personal freedoms, quality education, a healthy environment, a vigorous economy, and more. If you want to get really crazy, volunteer or put up a yard sign!

* Go ahead and unfriend or block people who try to hijack your social media posts. We’ve all encountered so-called friends who want to use our forums for promoting their own radical beliefs. If they aren’t showing respect for you and your own posts, don’t hesitate to give ‘em the axe. You don’t owe them a platform.

* Keep reminding yourself what you care about—and put your energy into those things instead of hand-wringing about all of the things that you can’t control. That can be a challenge, but most things in the world are firmly out of our control, so do what you can, and let go of the rest.

* Carve out time each day in quiet meditation or prayer—anything that helps you calm your mind to the many fears and anxieties we face. A quieter mind gives us a better perspective on the world, helps us prioritize what’s important, and clarifies where we should be putting our energies.

Finally, become obsessive about the many good things each of us has in life—especially here in Montana. Spend time with and support your loved ones. Take deep breaths and gaze on the beautiful sights around you.

We have little control over the future, but we can control how much we appreciate each moment. You never know. 2024 may turn out better than we think!