11:30 am EDT, July 11, 2017

How to stay sane during ‘Game of Thrones’: A survival guide

Tips to survive the next months of blood, death and destruction.

It’s an awesome show, but it’s also extremely emotionally exhausting. With Season 7 coming up, here are some tips to survive Game of Thrones.

Season 6 of Game of Thrones was probably the most intense one yet, and while it ended on a relatively high note, we were glad that it was over because we were finally safe from having our hearts broken. While it’s fun to theorize and experience the adrenaline rush of genuinely not knowing what’s going to happen, it can also be draining.

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So maybe you’ve used the last year to recover from Season 6 and only occasionally wonder who’s going to sit on the Iron Throne when this is all over. Well, Season 7 is almost here, and that emotional rollercoaster is about to take off again. Here are some tips to keep your emotional breakdowns to a minimum and actually enjoy the show you love without panicking about whether or not Arya is going to die.

survive game of thrones grey worm missandei

Set small, achievable expectations

This is true about anything in life, but it’s especially important in Game of Thrones. This show is absolutely unpredictable, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that your favorite characters won’t survive and your favorite ships won’t sail. So how do you enjoy a show where nothing you want to happen will probably happen?

Stop wanting big things! When you’re getting excited about something, lower your expectations a notch, and focus on easily-achievable goals. Instead of going “I hope Jon Snow rules Westeros” or “Littlefinger will definitely not ruin everything,” or “Jaime and Brienne should live happily ever after,” stick to small expectations, such as:

  • “At some point in this season, Jaime will call Cersei out on her shit.”
  • “By episode 4 of this season, Jon Snow will still be alive.”
  • “Grey Worm and Missandei will finally hook up (sort of).”
  • “There’s going to be a beautifully sad moment that will give me feels.”

All of those things are achievable, and maybe even likely to happen (given hints in the trailers). Of course, you never know with Game of Thrones, but by setting small goals, you’re less likely to be horribly disappointed.

survive game of thrones viserys

Remember: the people you hate will get satisfyingly horrible deaths

With Ramsay Bolton’s death last season, we got rid of the latest villain in a string of horrible people we wanted to see die. This season, who knows who the nastiest bad guy will be, but there’s likely to be many moments when we’ll be praying that one of the gods just kills off the people we hate.

Well, good news! Game of Thrones has an excellent track record when it comes to killing off horrible people in satisfying ways! In Season 1, we enjoyed Viserys Targaryen’s molten-gold-to-the-face death with probably more glee than we should have. In Season 4, after some seasons from hell, we finally watched King Joffrey Baratheon choke to death at his own wedding. And last season, Ramsay Bolton finally relieved Westeros of his despicable presence and got eaten by dogs while Sansa (and all of us) smiled macabrely.

Remember, the amount of horrible things these people do is directly proportional to the amount of satisfaction you’ll get in seeing them die. So no matter how furious you get at a character this season, remember: they’re probably going to die. And it’s probably going to be awesome.

(Then, maybe find a way to cope with your newfound sadism.)

survive game of thrones daenerys

Get comfortable with the idea of tragedy

We honestly don’t know if Game of Thrones is going to end up being a tragedy. Actually, at this point, in many ways, it already is a tragedy. So maybe we should become accustomed to the concept. After all, tragedy is far from new to entertainment; it’s one of the oldest forms of art. So why are we still scared of it?

Assume the worst, and get ready for all of the sad scenes that are coming up (because there will definitely be some sad scenes). Read some tragic books, like Hamlet or The Great Gatsby, or even better, watch movies like Shutter Island, Hero or The House of Flying Daggers. If you become desensitized to sadness, then maybe you can enjoy everything else more.

Empty your tear reservoirs ahead of time, so that you’ll be pleasantly surprised if there’s anything happy in any of the episodes of Season 7.

survive game of thrones rat

Realize that you’ve already forgotten most of the horrible stuff

Your mind isn’t actually capable of keeping everything in it. There are plenty of horrible scenes in previous seasons of Game of Thrones that you may have forgotten, like the fact that someone was once tortured by having a rat eat its way through them, or that The Mountain once cut off his own horse’s head, or that Ser Rodrik’s death took way too long.

After 6 seasons of this emotional rollercoaster of a show, your mind has actually become good at filtering out many of the bad memories, and filling up space with the good ones we all remember, like Daenerys’ victorious emergence from fire, or Lyanna Mormont being awesome. Although of course, we do remember a bunch of the most important horrible ones, too; the Red Wedding is kind of impossible to forget. But you’ll eventually forget most of the scenes!

Which is why, when something horrible happens on screen this season, close your eyes and remember that all of this is temporary, and that your brain, after all, doesn’t have that much storage space. Thank God.

survive game of thrones meme

Keep an eye out for the memes

Memes are the lifeblood of the internet, and sometimes even a central part of friendships with other people. Every day, new memes pop up, and a big show like Game of Thrones is bound to have a big presence in the internet hivemind.

If a moment in the show has impacted you too much, think of how many others it’s also impacted. You’re experiencing something huge with people all around the world! Somewhere out there, someone is making a meme about this moment, and you’ll be able to share it later. You’re taking part in a cultural process, much akin to storytelling around a fire in ancient times.

So if your favorite character died, or something truly twisted develops, stay calm. This moment may be redefining your experience with the show, but it’s about to enhance your internet experience in a multitude of wonderful ways.

survive game of thrones jon sansa

And of course, to survive Game of Thrones, keep comfort food and your favorite drinks at hand, because you’re probably going to need them. Make sure that you have friends who can text you frantically about how shocking that new twist was, or find a place where fans like you are writing about their thoughts (like Hypable!) and enjoy the excitement.

And remember… if it all gets too much, there’s no shame in closing your eyes. (But like, keep listening because what they say is probably important.)

Happy watching! I hope no more Starks die this season.

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