What do you do to stay sane?

Here’s a project asking people to list five things they do to stay sane.  I’m going to arbitrage and ask only for one thing you do to stay sane.  Please leave your answer in the comments.

I try to listen to beautiful music at least once a day, I don’t check my portfolio even in the best of times, I hug a loved one at least one more time than was expected (with adaptive expectations this is hard to sustain over time but I have my tricks), and also I avoid television advertisements as much as possible.  That’s four, you need only offer one.


Playing immersive video games and perhaps eating good quality dark chocolate.

I take care of patients at the psychiatric hospital.

I read G.K. Chesterton.

Poetry and IPA. A little bit of both, and everything seems a
bit more tolerable.

Pet a purring cat; go for a run; strength training.


Avoid listening to politicians speak at all cost, and if forced to hear them speak play a drinking game.

I turn my computer and TV off any time I am with my son.

Read Karma Yoga chapter from Vivekanand Volume 1 and read a page from Meditations by Markus Aurelius. These days look at the face my newly born.

take a walk. play the piano. read enduring works written before i was born. don't set the alarm on weekends. interact with non-human animals.

go to the movies by myself.

I think about the fact that, even though I fear death, there was a whole eternity of non-me, BEFORE I got here, and I don't have the least anxiety about it.

run a marathon once a year

Drugs. The fellow above that drinks is on the same system, as are those who ride bikes and run etc. I do hard physical labor (I have no choice actually) which makes my body secrete pleasure chemicals. I have no objective reason for the feeling of well being that results, and I know it, but I feel good anyway. Sex works too. On a smaller scale, the smiles of babies and big eyed women trigger the release of such chemicals too. Make a baby, or a babe, smile and you'll be a tiny bit saner.

I tell myself and everyone else that DOW 6,000 is possible and a good thing because I hope to one day live off dividends. Also I held a lot of cash because I thought that stocks were expensive (I have still lost a lot) so I buy more stocks averaging down each down day. I have pumped myself for DOW 6,000. It was worse watching all my family and friends making a killing in real-estate while my dream house got more and more expensive.

Daily Show.
Tasty food.
Breathing easily.

I like to balance the mental and manmade with the physical and natural. The primitive versus the modern. To do that, I like to be outdoors in a natural environment, doing something physical that engages the mind in more primitive competitive pursuits. I play football with my boys, ski (downhill and cross country), hike, wrestle my boys, play basketball, exercise, etc.

Before I go to sleep, I read fiction. I also love to read out loud to my wife - currently Ted Hughes's Tales from Ovid is our reading-out-loud favourite.

I volunteer to feed the hungry and/or homeless about once a month. I also talk to my "customers"---but only if they want to---about where they've been and what their hopes are.

I stopped watching and reading all news (especially cable news), stopped watching all commercials, and stopped reading strictly political blogs and switched all my news/current events consumption to econ related blogs/publications. It has done wonders for my sanity/frustration level.

you think I'm sane?!

I started playing the piano a couple of years ago. While other things such as cooking, exercising, working, and being with friends certainly contribute to my sanity, practicing piano is about the only thing that makes it impossible for me to worry about other things. I've been practicing a lot lately.

I create some peace and quiet to leisurely read the FT weekend.

Keep busy most of the time, but every couple of weeks unwind with a terrible cheap novel on a Saturday.

I sleep. Nothing fixes the days problems like taking a nap or going to bed early. though I know I'm lucky in that I can fall asleep in short order at pretty much any time of the day.

Play Bach, and jazz standards, at the piano. Compose a little, too.

Every night with my kids, we say three thankfuls (things we're thankful for), and say a prayer for someone who might need a little extra help. My 7-year old has recently been praying for "the people on Wall Street."

I don't know if we took it from Oprah Winfrey or Eastern philosophy, but it works.

Radio and TV ads are psychically taxing, and I avoid them. I don't notice that I'm a worse shopper for it, but maybe I'm free riding on the consumer knowledge of others.

I always get my caffeine and chocolate fix. Since weather has cooled, I've been drinking a rich combination of hot milk (four parts) to melted Lindt's dark chili chocolate (one part) morning and night.

No newspapers. And I resist the urge to read wingers that make me angry. "I do not want to wage war against what is ugly... Looking away shall be my only negation."

Exercise, constant healthy snacking, and snuggling.

Smoke pot and watch a movie/TV show.

This is kind of obvious, but:


I go home to my family every night.

Swim. Run. Blog. Read a novel. Cuddle a cat. Take medication when necessary!

The knowledge that as unhappy as I might be for any reason, there are many people in the world who would love to have my life.

Hearing running water gurgle (even in the shower or sink)

Exercise, watch little or no TV (especially political commentary), draw/paint, and try to learn something new every day.

1) running
2) sex or pornography
3) scotch or pilsner
4) at least once a month going somewhere I've never been before
5) at least once a year reread "Leisure, The Basis of Culture" by Josef Pieper

Put cheesy indie pop (Vampire Weekend or The Format) on the stereo, turn the volume up really loud, and dance with my daughter.

Throw a frisbee around. There is something really artistic about being able to control the flight exactly the way you want over 75 yards.

If I am indoors, watching soccer is fantastic. American Football and baseball arent horrible either, especially football with the sound turned down.

I go to a restaurant by myself and read.

Avoiding all TV/radio advertisements.

Playing video games I really love, on stormy evenings, with a great beer.

Remember to be grateful, every day. Compared to all lives past and present, mine and my children's lives are extraordinary outliers in terms of health and comfort. This puts all other problems into perspective.

Go outside with my dog. Dogs are optimists and forever cheerful.

read MR every day.

Give thanks and praise to God

It seems us MR readers are either fitter than average, or wishful thinkers, but I like many others, exercise and do it outside unless it's miserably cold or rainy.

Under all circumstances, reading.
To maintain over long periods, periodic vacations to real wilderness (e.g. Southwest deserts, Yucatan jungle).

I spend at least an hour, every day, in or within sight of deep woods, as far away from pavement as possible.

Golf on weekends - walking, of course! Basketball with much younger guys during weekday lunches. Not very good at either. At 57, though, the goal starts to get simple: wake up the next day.

If I read something annoying on a blog, I close the browser tab rather than click on "Post a Comment."

During stressful patches I write down 5 things that surprise me in a good way each day. Small things like a cute baby seen on a train count too. This simple exercise makes me peek out of my shell of my stressed out self.

I loaf a lot and shirk inane duties such as writing memos at work or doing the dishes at home.

I second the reading of G.K chesterton, along with basically any christian theology...and lots of econ blogs as well.

Call someone I love(and hope they pick up), drink fresh coffee :), or read MR.

I go long on hemp! :).

Who wants to stay sane?
Sane is for the booring.

I read your blog!

In the mornings I go for a long row, in the afternoons I attend rowing practice, and in the evenings I study for your class. Although I'm becoming more fond of relieving stress in the evenings through drugs, drinking and watching either southpark or the life and times of Tim.

I smoke a joint and masturbate, in that order. It seems longer.

I work the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. If I have to miss - say because I am in a foreign country and can't access it by e-mail or I am unable to find an International Herald Tribune - the day is a real downer.

Make someone laugh. Make myself laugh. Either one works, but the first is better than the second.

Barbque. There is something hypnotic and primal about watching fire cook meat.

This morning I volunteered at an urban kindergarden class. I will probably not have kids myself, but playing and helping kids learn is refreshing.

I shoot paper targets full of holes. Then I clean and oil my guns, which takes about as much time as shooting them. In the winter, when it's too cold for shooting to be fun, I build models.

Drinking coffee and watching the dog sleep are good, too.

I take the slow scenic route instead of the faster congested route.

I used to run.

I gave up sanity in 2000 and embraced crazy. I know that doesn't seem quite right but it helps. My blood pressure went down, I stopped yelling at the TV and the computer and I enjoy sex more. I then became addicted to WOW and the blogosphere. (I now enjoy sex as a nightelf as well) I also pretend to be a Stepford wife when my husband and kids are around. So that works

oh, also...screaming at the tv on saturday morning/afternoon while 18-21 year olds run into each other seems to help. my poor family

I ride my skateboard. Falling on concrete keeps you grounded.

Take my dog to the dog beach. Go hiking.


Ah. I feel better now.

I draw or paint something every day in a small sketchbook, and post the pictures on my blog.

The process is a daily chance to begin again, to reflect on something ordinary, to let go of words and play with line and color.


1) Enough alone time.
2) Enough together time.
3) Listening to enough weird electronic music (Autechre is like a deep tissue massage for your brain; it's slightly painful but feels great; consider the song "P.:NTIL").
4) Listening to enough non-weird non-electronic music (M Ward's "Transistor Radio" for one)

For evening sanity maintenance, any combination of exercise, alcohol, books, and old-school video games will do the trick. The weekend is just a matter of endurance: solitude until it becomes intolerable, then crowd-immersion until that becomes intolerable; rinse, repeat and pray for Monday.

I'm not sure what I do to stay sane.

I guess my answer is, "have a good time."

I breathe. In and out. (Srsly, I tried just in for a while, but it didn't work out so well.)

Crosswords, cocktails and cooking.

Travel! (Can't believe nobody has mentioned this)

Note: does not include domestic air travel in the US as that is bound to cause insanity.

Portfolio? I don't have any portfolio.

My life is the exactly the same as before the stock market went crazy. Yes, some of us live like this ALL the time. Now you know how it feels.

Unfortunately, this means I don't have extra cash to partake in any of the above activities everybody else does to stay sane.


Get rid TV.
Stop reading The Economist" magazine, most importantly the Middle East section.
Play basketball.
Sex (solo as a fall back positions)
Eat at an ethic restaurant that allows you to transport out of current local.
Consider how lucky I am. If you are in the U.S., you are lucky.
Drink while shooting pool.
Do anything as long as it is with passion.

I take classes from Brad DeLong.

Chat with strangers in online dating forums.

watch the Daily Show
cuddle the cat

... but I don't think anything is actually working.

I continue to rely on the happy neurological accidents of birth and upbringing that have so far restricted me to the reasonably broad range of thoughts and behaviours that are social acceptable enough for those exhibiting them to be considered sane. (On a related note, I think anyone trying to take credit for their own ostensible sanity is just kidding themselves.)

Target shoot with a 1911.

Work through lists. The 1,001 Books are a gift from heaven for me.

i cross stitch, keeping my mind concentrated on counted cross stitch blocks any other thougths

Remember we are all going to die and one day the earth will be destroyed by natural forces beyond our control.

I think of stars, far far away.

The gym or Chimay, depending on the time of day.

play classical guitar

Remembering that the difference between me and Dali is that *I* know that *he* is mad.

listening to good music
playing with my children
petting my cat
kissing my husband
painting my toenails bright colors
Wintergreen lifesavers

I should make a list every day - it really does kind of put things in persepctive

Two anti-depressants and an anti-ADD med do it for me.

I don't read the newspapers.

I find that taking a long drive with no exact destination, playing the radio and enjoying some tobacco greatly soothes me.

I can in no way claim to a permanent grasp on sanity. However, getting rid of the TV has been an immense blessing.
I still watch the occasional quality show/doco/news/quiz on iplayer etc. Giving up the all too dominant presence of the TV which most of us have too willingly succumbed to over the years, has freed up time to talk, be with quietly, enjoy meals, cook and laugh with my partner in a much more meaningful way than before. I highly recommend a TV ban to all.

smoking herb and listening to quality tunes. breathing and meditating.

In addition to several other things, I take a sauna twice a week at home.

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