finding alternatives

nina simone: the epitome of strong and a survivor

October was packed with anxiety. It was a turning point in my life, so intense with low emotion that it fueled me to write this post. “finding alternatives” is about finding coping strategies that make life a little easier when it feels unbearable. If you’re struggling mentally or emotionally, it’s important to find your own approach. to give you some idea, here are mine:

Music

I start with some Billie Holiday or Nina Simone apt to my disconsolate, forlorn mood. Listening on youtube means I’m on an automated playlist and I end up listening to something upbeat like Bill Withers’ just the two of us or even the rapturous james brown. I usually have this music on while I’m working so I don’t even notice the music change but I notice a slight uplift in my present mood.

Cry

One theory to the evolutionary purpose of crying, is that it works as a signal for others to intervene and help. Yet this doesn’t explain why crying is so cathartic and why I feel so much better after a good cry. Another source tells me that when humans meet a anxiety-imbued trigger/stimuli in our environment, our sympathetic system kicks in and we must cry in order to resolve the crisis and “complete the cycle”. For our ancestors, that would have mean to fight or flight but for us today that could mean anything from sprinting to release anger, screaming into a pillow or having a good cry.

Embrace the feeling

great works, art, music and literature would not be made without these feelings. i even believe that you need experiences of these intense human experience to appreciate these great arts. I found that I was the most productive creatively when I was my lowest and it even gave me some satisfaction, especially when I finished a project.

aznavour embodies this sad but beautiful feeling

The second part to embracing your melancholy is by utilising it to create great art. Follow in the footsteps of Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Edward Hopper among many others. That’s what all great singers did. Art isn’t made by the ordinary and you too have the potential to create a masterpiece as Warhol.

serge gainsbourg embraces his funny looking countenance. his vulnerable, candid demeanor is where his charisma stems from.

Exhaust yourself

This can also be used to remedy sleeping issues. by completing an arduous physical activity such as time in the gym or on a hike can help to distract yourself, work towards a goal and pump some good endorphins. Set goals and try to improve your previous records. A good distraction can help a painful moment past.

Use your time for others

There’s research which says that we receive more happiness buying our friend a gift than buying something for ourselves. I think we can stretch this to other acts of kindness such as cooking dinner for a friend, volunteering, showing a colleague a new skill, and helping a family member or friend.

Write a letter to a friend

Usually we are much kinder with people that we love than we are to ourselves. To utilise that kindness and goodness inside me, I write a loved one’s name at the top of the paper and set out to give him/her advice on a matter. The second step includes reading back the letter and trying to follow the advice.

Last but not least,

I promise that all these feelings are temporary and everyone experiences them. Another point to focus on is the fact that low moments help us to appreciate the good moments and especially the high moments which feel like ecstasy. Life is about going through this cycle of emotion and it makes us 100% human for it.

and remember:

Success is going failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm

Winston Churchill

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