August Playlist: Happy and Healthy
At long last...
...a new playlist. With a seemingly endless pandemic and a barrage of bad news filling up our screens, you could probably use something nice, which is the idea for this playlist. I named it "Happy and Healthy" as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the rather bitter Olivia Rodrigo bop. (Psst: If you want to skip straight to the songs, scroll to the end of this post.)
How Are You Doing?
Creative people are more likely to suffer from a variety of mental illnesses and I am not exempt from mental health issues and since you’re here, you might be struggling this year too. Mental health issues have spiked across the US (and probably the world) due to the stress of the prolonged pandemic and the uncertainty, loneliness, and economic issues that came with it. And though normally, the state of my mental health is not something I would share very widely, I’ve noticed more of my friends and acquaintances mentioning that they’ve been having a hard time, and so in case you are struggling too, I wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone and share some of the things that have helped me feel a little better, plus some professional resources in case you need extra help. (Obviously, I’m an artist and not a doctor, so the following are techniques that have worked for me personally.)
The biggest thing that helped me feel better was mindfulness practice. You can read more about it by checking out this book, but the gist is that when you are feeling bad or sad without an obvious cause, we, as problem-solving people, tend to troubleshoot that feeling to try to get better. We’ll think about other times we felt this way and try to puzzle out how we ‘fixed’ it then. Although this strategy works for most other issues in life, for mental issues, it’s the wrong tool for the job. The more you soak in the bad feelings and think about previous bad feelings, the stronger you make the connections in your brain and the troubleshooting activity ends up actually making you feel even worse and so it becomes harder to extract yourself.
So, what’s the answer? One way is mindfulness practice, which just means that when you notice yourself feeling bad, try to stop yourself and notice the physical world outside your head. You can focus on your breath (which is meditation) or you can just touch things and think about how they feel. For example, you could hold a pen in your hand and notice the way it’s made, how it feels in your hand, as if it was the first time you’d ever seen such an item. Really give it all your attention. It sounds weird, but distracting yourself from your mind and making yourself pay attention to world around you can really stop the downward spiral. And it’s a practice, which means you should keep doing it when the occasion arises. Like exercise, it’s not one-and-done (unfortunately).
Have Fun?Another thing that helped me start feeling better was picking up some fun activities from my childhood. For me, I picked up roller-skating and hula-hooping. After buying some skates I discovered that I was a LOT rustier than I thought I’d be, so I took lessons with an adult class and have never laughed so much. Falling and getting up and falling again has never been so much fun. Similarly, I picked up hula-hooping on a whim. A roller-skating account I follow on Instagram said they hula-hooped to two songs a day to get back into shape after giving birth. I thought it sounded like fun, so I bought a hula hoop to try it out. Which brings me to the playlist.
Happy and Healthy
The first time I tried hula-hooping, I went to turn on some music to 'hoop to, but as a longtime Sad Music addict, my usual selections were too mopey, too slow or too dark for an activity as silly and energetic as hula-hooping. So I just picked a random Spotify playlist of current pop hits and had a really fun time trying to keep my hoop in the air. In fact, I had such a good time that I started listening to dance-y pop music every day while hula-hooping and then also while doing my normal workout. And also while working. Finally, when I started getting choosier about my pop tunes, I thought I’d put together a playlist to share. A couple weeks of fine-tuning and testing out these songs later, I feel confident that they're a really good mix. "Happy and Healthy" is a little shorter than my playlists usually are because it turns out that pop songs are really short. And since I’m very particular, I can’t just add filler – each song needs to pass the “Is it a banger?” test. Dua Lipa, BTS and Travis Scott all made the cut, along with several more artistes.
So enjoy "Happy and Healthy" and I’ll get back to work on the next jewelry release.
P.S. I almost forgot the promised mental health resources. These are all US-centered because that's where I'm based. Click here for a variety mental health resources from the National Institute of Mental Health. For resources specifically for the needs of people of color, click here.