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15 Ways to Distract Yourself and Avoid Stress on Election Day

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If you're anything like me, you've spent the last few weeks (oh, who am I kidding: months) obsessively checking Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight forecast of what's going to happen on Election Day. After an election cycle that has felt like it's lasted 84 years, that day is upon us at long last. We could spend all day stressing out, reading way too much into every bit of news that comes through, and refreshing Twitter every 15 seconds. Or we can distract ourselves!

Here are just a few ideas on how to keep busy and stay sane:

  • You can watch the San Francisco Zoo live stream of their red pandas, Tenzing, Hillary, and Hunter, doing red panda things all day:


  • Or, if aquatic cuties are more your thing, you can watch the Monterey Bay Aquarium live stream of their sea otters:


But, honestly, you should just follow this little girl's lead:



  • After 18 months of engaging in political fights on Facebook with your relatives, high school acquaintances, and frenemies, flip the script today. Pick a fight with these people about what really matters: does cilantro taste amazing or does it taste like soap? This debate should keep you busy for a while.





  • Pick the most obscure LaCroix flavor possible and hunt for it in every corner store and supermarket in your neighborhood. Don't worry -- this journey might seem pointless, but it's technically exercise, and may eventually lead to getting hydrated!
  • Once the LaCroix of your dreams has been found, you can celebrate by singing along to this masterpiece:

  • Today is as good as any to find out what happened to Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I mean, he was everywhere for a decade and then poof! Channel your inner Harriet the Spy and solve this mystery!


  • You've been meaning to get into podcasts, but never knew where to start. I can help you with that. First off, there's KQED Pop's own The Cooler, which tackles everything from why America owes Janet Jackson a huge apology for Nipplegate to how you can survive family drama, long flights, and bad food this holiday season. After you're done binge-listening to a few episodes, you can get into any and all of the following: Serial (not Season 2 though; sorry, Sarah Koenig), 2 Dope Queens, Code Switch, Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History, and Mystery Show.


  • Here's a novel concept: Go outside... WITHOUT YOUR CELL PHONE. Notice how blue the sky is. Take in a beautiful birdsong. Smile at a stranger. It'll be just like the '80s!


  • Go to lunch with your favorite friend or coworker. Talk about everything, except the election.


  • Sometimes, hard as we may try, we can't hold ourselves back from the things that are bad for us. In today's case, that means social media and news sites. We won't know what's what until polls close, so why not block sites that will only stress you out by using an app like SelfControl? It'll provide mental space to focus on work, pen-pal letters, or whatever else.


  • Listen to Muhammad Ali's little-known, Grammy-nominated 1976 album, The Adventures of Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay, which was recorded to promote dental hygiene for children. Somehow, this translates into Ali being responsible for the crack in the Liberty Bell, along with lyrics like "Yesterday I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick / I'm so mean, I make medicine sick." Behold:

  • Speaking of things you might not know, but definitely should: In the early 20th century, a woman hid her secret lover in her attic... for over a decade! And that's just the beginning. Read all about it:

  • When was the last time you watched a bunch of Mariah Carey music videos? If the answer isn't "this morning," it's time to make it happen:

  • Are you unfamiliar with the British musician Kate Bush? Why not fix that error today?

  • Learning about other cultures plus taking quizzes equals not thinking about whether Florida will vote for Hillary or Trump. Find out what Italians mean when they say "to live in the butt of a wolf" and test your knowledge of other foreign idioms:

Okay, I think that should be enough to keep you occupied during the final hours of this election cycle. In case the past year or so has shaken your faith in our country, here's Whitney Houston's flawless rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner":

And just because, here's Little Edie feeling herself -- and America too:

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