Amanda Ripley’s April 7 column, “How to survive another Trump-Biden election” offered a playbook for finding peace of mind during the coming election. We asked readers to share their own thoughts on how to cope with life in a hyperpolarized country.

What impact do presidential election years have on you personally?

Qris Claassen, Albuquerque

They make me realize how important our democracy is and how vital it is to keep it.

Jeffrey Moualim, Tehachapi, Calif.

I’m a transgender woman. The last four years have shown that election years have a profound impact on my basic rights.

Claire Williams, Portland, Ore.

They stress me out, big time. All the stories and madness occupy way too much time in my head. My spouse went through cancer diagnosis and treatment (including three surgeries) over the past nine years. That kind of experience changes your perspective. Life is too short and precious to be sucked in and dragged down the rabbit hole.

Liz Cunningham, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Are there ways you change your behavior during presidential elections? What strategies do you use to manage your feelings and personal relationships?

I bring in horizons of time and space. I stop thinking about the world my grandson will grow up in and instead enjoy his newfound skills, such as feeding himself and climbing on the couch. I garden like a crazy woman; this patch, I can make beautiful today. I am an endurance athlete, learning over and over that I need to refocus on reaching the next telephone pole, not on the remaining miles.

Beatrice Van Horne, Corvallis, Ore.

During the 2020 election season, I scheduled an “election escape” outside the United States. Last time, it was Ecuador; this fall, it’s Portugal. Almost no one wanted to discuss our toxic politics. It was a breath of fresh air.

Ellen Rosfeld, Dewey, Ariz.

During the past few presidential elections, I have become very careful when meeting new people, waiting to determine someone’s political views before mentioning anything having to do with the issues of the day. Even views that, to me, are just pragmatic ways of handling problems push the hot buttons of so many people. I have many friends who become noticeably agitated and angry when I question their political beliefs to learn more about them. Even talking about the weather brings up climate change!

I have started a grass-roots movement by establishing two groups of citizens. Each group comprises liberals, conservatives and independents who meet twice per month for political discussions. We are the Political Peace Posse. I hope to spread the word to other communities and train facilitators to organize and lead citizens in their own communities to come together for peaceful, civil discussions of political issues.

Tara Tuck, Marco Island, Fla.

My golf group has agreed not to discuss politics. There is an occasional slip, but for the most part, it has worked. The hours spent on the golf course give a nice respite.

Joseph Buckhalt, Auburn, Ala.

I like reaching out and maintaining relationships with relatives and friends whose political points of view are almost completely different from mine. In those conversations, we rarely discuss politics, but we talk about all the other fascinating topics we can explore together.

We silence all political ads that appear on our TV or computer. We do not inhabit any social media platforms. We keep our phones turned off during the day and check for messages once in the evening. We do not discuss politics with people we do not know or with family and friends who would take exception to our views. We discard all political mail without reading it. We do not watch or listen to cable news outlets. We get our daily news updates solely from reputable TV and newspaper sources. And, we avoid news altogether when our psychological states tell us we have had enough negativity for a while. As a clinical psychologist, I can tell you that taking these measures has improved our sense of well-being and psychological balance.

Patrick Knowles, Fond du Lac, Wis.

I journal, read the Bible and pray. I also end most days by watching some late-night satire, because somehow, I must laugh despite it all. Despite all of this, I cannot ignore the danger that Donald Trump poses to our democracy. As a social worker, I understand his psychological dysfunction all too well.

Linda Johnston Arage, Waxahachie, Tex.

After several cycles of ensuring that my spouse (a frequent business traveler) and our children (one is in grad school overseas, and one is working in Canada) get their ballots in time to vote, I have done my job: They all understand the importance of voting. Now, it is my turn!

After being a permanent resident of the United States for 34 years, I am finally becoming a citizen so that I, too, can cast my ballot. I look forward to volunteering for get-out-the-vote initiatives and, possibly, running for local office. Despite having friends and family across the political spectrum, we all share a commitment to being responsibly informed citizens and participating in American democracy. I look forward to doing so for the first time this election cycle.

Maureen Halford Spillane, Phoenix

The writer passed her citizenship test shortly after submitting her letter.

Since 2016 and the fall of a legitimate Republican Party, everything is different. Now, I am lost because a third of this country, including relatives and friends, has been swept up in populist politics. I feel hopeless because I cannot do a thing about it. I am sad because I used to think Americans understood what democracy means, and now I realize there is nothing exceptional or special about us. I believe we are, as a nation, being destroyed by the Republican Party, which Donald Trump has taken over with lies and fear.

Charlene Fitzpatrick, Tucson

I don’t talk about politics unless I know exactly where a person lands on the issues. We avoid people who we know might be supporting a politician we cannot stand. We have made some plans to move out of the country if the worst happens. We cannot imagine living in the United States if Donald Trump gets a second term.

Betsy Schindler, Baltimore

I listen to feelings and emotions, not words. Listen others into existence. I also teach people how to have a calm conversation with the politically polarized.

Today, when asked, I say that I will vote for the person who leads me toward the light, not into the darkness, regardless of political party.

Doug Noll, Clovis, Calif.

Was there a moment in a presidential election that changed how you felt about the role politics played in your life?

A friend who voted the opposite way from me was bullied by her 20-something sons for doing so, and I had to help her build boundaries against the bullying.

Lynn Parkllan, Northville, Mich.

I hate to say it, but this year is different from any presidential election I’ve seen. (And being 70 years old, I’ve seen many.) I’m frustrated that a man who tried to change the outcome of a fair election can be the candidate of a major party.

I’m afraid of what the presidency will look like if Donald Trump is reelected. Loyalty, not expertise, will be the primary criterion for choosing members of the Cabinet on down.

Nancy Jacobson, Ithaca, N.Y.

The night President Barack Obama clinched his second nomination for president, my wife and I were recruited to work for his reelection. We tirelessly worked a phone bank urging Democrats to get to the polls and vote. What impressed us was working side by side with college kids. We were fired up by their enthusiasm. I felt that night like I had made a difference with the sincerity of my calls; I was amazed to have many people thank me for my personal call — not the “robocalls” so many are used to getting these days. I like to think those kids, who are graduates by now, will carry the torch.

Stephen Moskal, Albuquerque

The morning I awoke to the news that Donald Trump had been elected president shook me to my core, forcing me to come to grips with the fact that I could no longer count on the general good sense of the American people.

As a teen, I protested the Vietnam War, which ended two years after Richard M. Nixon was finally forced to withdraw U.S. troops in 1973. I knew from then on that the two-party system was deeply flawed and undemocratic. I have always supported third-party candidates, such as Ralph Nader, or voted Socialist Party if the Greens are not on the ballot. This year, we have an especially terrible situation. Drinking martinis with organic vodka does help somewhat.

Kristina Gronquist, Minneapolis

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