Before you throw your screen across the room in disgust, I am aware that this is yet another list piece. Please bear with me – I’m not becoming a one-trick, lazy pony. It’s just that all of my article ideas of the past week have felt very list-y (one vowel changed and this would be a veeery different kind of blog.) I am currently comforting myself with the understanding that list articles are loved the world over by equally lazy-pony-readers, so I suppose that it’s a win-win in that case.
This article is about pulling yourself up from a dark place (no euphemism intended – come on guys, grow up.) Further I am writing it with Monday specifically in mind – because would you have it, it’s Monday! Hooray! And it feels shitty. Inspiringly shitty. Monday’s are notoriously disliked by all working people, but there is an extra essence of Eau de Gloom when it’s also within the dreary void between Winter and Spring, in which you are met on your morning commute by sludge, grey skies and the scent of stale alcohol on everyone’s breath (otherwise known as the scent of nostalgia and regret.) So it seems only logical, then, to have things in place to pick you up from beneath the twenty-five feet of crap you feel yourself metaphorically under (or is that just me under all the crap? Can someone get me out from beneath my crap-pile? It stinks down here! [this is the kind of thing I’m babbling deliriously to myself on a Monday morning, just to drive home that I am a desperate mess at the beginning of the week, if you hadn’t gathered.])
You probably think you’ve heard it all before. Sure, sure, everyone writes ‘cheer-up lists’ – so what? But I do not like to write “heard it all before” kind of articles. These are my personal opinions and with that, there are some twists. If you’ve heard it all before, you’ll get your money back. A pretty sweet deal for me as no-one’s paying to read my site, HO HO HO, HOW HILARIOUS!
Oh my God, please save me from my Monday self.
1. Nice music. SEX MUSIC.
I wrote “Sex Music” in the title for this because I figured that it would make you want to read the point, instead of skimming past it on the premise that you’ve “heard it all before”. Come on – keep reading. Give this generic point a chance.
Often, listening to nice/rousing music on awakening detracts from the pain of being conscious (otherwise known as “the pain of being awake when you’ve just been dreaming about a bathing scenario containing Brendon Urie and gold rubber ducks you’re later cashing-in for a private plane”.) Music is and always has been a failsafe defense mechanism against “shitty feels”, if you know where to look. I feel like many people’s definitions of cheer-up songs are ones that makes you feel EVEN WORSE. I found a cheer-up playlist on Spotify and it was basically entirely made up of Lana Del Rey’s music – I mean, really!? Because “Born To Die” is about skipping in fields with bunnies and flowers, obviously.
It might just be me, but I find melodic, slow ballads – no matter what the lyrics are – tragic to my ears. I hate them all. Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” makes me want to rip my face off. I know she’s saying that we’re all pretty or whatever, but it’s SO SAD to me (and also kind of boring – sorry, Christina.) I would rather listen to “Pork and Beans” by Weezer which is based on the same premise but presented in a much better manner – don’t give a fuck about what anybody thinks, doesn’t even matter if you’re beautiful, just “eat your candy with the pork and beans.” With that logic, that is the type of song I’d recommend for down times (vis a vis, Monday mornings.)
Rude cathartic music/cheerful head-boppy tracks (both established terms in the music industry, I’ll have you know) are the best ingredients for feeling better within your shit-cake of gloom, within which I will speedily recommend to you Newton Faulkner (cheerful), Sonic Boom Six (rousing), Marina & The Diamond’s first album (cheerful, except for the final three tracks – avoid until you’re emotionally ready), Royal Blood (rousing), KT Tunstall (cheerful), all 8-bit music (I don’t think you can physically make 8-bit music sad…), +44 (cheerful 90’s old school rock), Billy Talent (rousing), Frou Frou (cheerful) or The Cure (cheerful… sometimes. Don’t pick the album “Disintegration”.)
SEX MUSIC SEX MUSIC!!!! Yes, I want you to continue reading. Did that wake you up? I would like to make it clear, firstly, that I think a lot of angry music is weirdly sexual (you are probably learning a lot of information you don’t care to know about me via this blog, but I don’t care. I think you are all secretly thinking “oh my God, what a genius! I think all of these things too!” [or so I wish.]) Sometimes I like to get VERY MAD AND ANGRY and mentally (and sometimes physically) throw things when pinned down by my shit-cake (such lovely graphic images in this article), embracing my negative emotions as a part of me enjoys fighting them AS A DRAGON, as opposed to a veritable Buddhist. Which you are probably thinking has just rendered everything I’ve suggested to you void – but bear in mind that this “Bat from Hell” persona probably occurs only once or twice a week, so the rest of the time the above sort of music is more applicable.
In these anger-fuelled scenarios, you want to listen to Mastodon, Billy Talent (“Worker Bees” specifically, so you can direct your anger at sticking it to The Man in beautiful Jack Black fashion) Muse (“Uprising” again for The Man – damn you, The Man!), Mindless Self Indulgence (fitting name and definitely weirdly sexy/angry) or someone like Huntress (female-fronted metal band about witchcraft and stuff, suitably angry-sounding and screamish.)
2. Warm beverages. COMFORT beverages.
I wanted to write “Sex Beverages” to make you read this but let’s be honest – hot drinks are never sexy. Wine is sexy. Gin is sexy. Beer is sexy kind-of (though it stinks a bit.) Warm beverages of ANY KIND are never sexy, but they are as comforting as a warm cuddle with a pile of kittens, or wearing your mum’s cool jumper from the nineties which makes you think about being an irresponsible little shit (a.k.a., a child.) That kind of comforting.
When I am clutching a goblet of any sweet, caffeinated elixir, I feel stronger. When I drink it, sometimes I have horrific palpitations, but I am pinning that down to suffocating under the shit-pile of Monday (shall I stop mentioning shit? Will that make this article a bit nicer? I am going to stop mentioning shit. Or perhaps refer to it as “excrement” from here-on-in.)
3. Creative cursing. Sexily INTELLIGENT creative cursing.
I am probably a horrible person, but creatively cursing inside my head is one of my favourite activities when I am dying under Excrement Mountain. I probably touched on this in my other article, “Commuter Thoughts”, but it’s certainly applicable to any depressing/negative situations (I almost instinctively do it on Mondays now.) Here are a couple of examples:
– Things you can say to your bag
“You will be some Mary-Poppins-type Tardis, you crinkly prune-flaked motherfucker.”
“SHIT YOU AND ALL OF YOUR PISSING POCKETS, CANDY-CANE CRUSH OF CRAP SICK FUCKSICKLES.” (“intelligence” in your curses is not mandatory)
“Oh Bag, you have defied thee, oh Bag, bringeth me misery, oh Bag, FUCK YOU AND YOUR BAG-FAMILY.”
– Things you can say to the sky
“You put one more drop of rain on my pissing head and I swear to all that is unholy I will THROW TREES AT YOU, I WILL PUNCH YOU WITH MY FLAME-FISTS YOU BLUE SPREAD-EAGLED TROUGH OF FUCKSWALLOP.”
“You have no problems sky. You just sit and mock us all, don’t you sky? I CAST MY IMAGINARY FINGER TO YOU, SKY.”
– Things you can say to yourself
“Forgot to turn off the lightswitch oh GOD, do you know what – I DON’T CARE, I AM FREE, I AM A REBEL, BURN ALL THE LIGHSWITCHES!! BURN ALL OF THE HOUSES!!” (if the government is reading this I don’t actually want to burn all of the houses)
“My hair will never pissing stay in place, you are the Stalin of all fringes, Fringe, go get monkey-fucked in a pond of algae-like-old-semen” (…also, your curses do not have to make sense)
“I am a sock. I am a zen, Buddhist sock. FUCK YOU SOCK I HATE MYSELF” (see above parentheses)
Creatively cursing is a fun activity for ages 13+ (or 18+ if you are from a Mormon family.) You may almost feel proud of yourself the more creatively you curse, as well as cheered-up, like you’ll be mid self-indulgent rant and suddenly think “Oh wow, what an excellent insult, I will have to use that in my future novel/rap album”. Or perhaps your wedding vows.
4. Think about the weekend, or anything in the future which is looking more promising than your current seat on Excrement Mountain. SEXY Excre – no.
If you’re in a bit of a shit place – persevere. Getting into the habit of persevering can be difficult, but there are things that you can do to make it easier. I find it helpful to write down the things I can persevere for (as a list, again. I am clearly addicted.) It’s Monday? Think about Tuesday, or the weekend. What are you doing? It’s only a few days away – just zone out for now and before you know it, you’ll be golden.
Alternatively, if you’re finding it really difficult to be happy on a certain day, write about the little things that have gone okay. There are ALWAYS some, without fail. In my diary there’s a big space to write in per day as well as a calendar list – in the calendar I write down important shit to remember and in the spacier part I write down why I can be happy on a certain day (if I’m veering more towards the miserable.) This can be anything like “the cashier at Costa was really nice” to “I made up the best creative curse” to “that spot I had is gone” or “I made one good joke today and everybody laughed” (this is a lie, because I never make one good joke – I ALWAYS MAKE SEVERAL! ALL OF THE TIME! I’M HILARIOUS! [a.k.a., I never make one good joke, I always make bad jokes that make me laugh hysterically on my own to myself.]) It can even be “my train was on time”. It can be anything that might go remiss, just to remind you that little good things are circulating around you all the time, even when you’re lording it at Excrement Valley (when you’ve slid off Excrement Mountain.)
5. Anything funny. All that is funny.
There is no ill that cannot be cured by comedy. I am sure about this. Comedy is the perfect distraction from ALL blues, of Monday ilk and other. Doesn’t matter where you are – at work, on the street or at home, alone and depressed (Home Alone and Depressed is the seventh Home Alone movie, in which MaCaulay Culkin enters his moody teenage years and throws an emo house party when inevitably left alone for an extended period of time. I am pretty sure that the McAllister parents’ have Kevin-specific amnesia.)
If you’re at work, you can access a whole world of funny by either generating comedy yourself or by harnessing the famous trick of Looking at Stuff online. Memes Culture should definitely be made into a Psychology or Media module to study the delirious hilarity of what is, basically, Pictures with Witty Captions. Here are a couple of my recent favourite ones:
See? You’re feeling better already.
There’s also Calming Manatee online, which always makes me laugh (in a therapeutic, calming sort of way):
If you don’t have the internet with you, ensure that you have some emergency funny tracks downloaded onto your iPod/phone/ancient mp3 stick/memory, such as Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles” or “We’re Taking The Hobbits to Isengard”. Alternatively, if you’re really old school and have no technological devices whatsoever (or you are trying to limit your dependency on them, which is always a good idea in preparation for the Technological Apocalypse in which all technology will suddenly break and we’ll have to go back to the days of candles and carrier pigeons) – have a funny book with you. I just read Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) “ and I thoroughly recommend it. I choked on my own spit several times.
Your access to comedy is even more broad when at home. You could watch Frasier, do more internetting, conduct personal-skit-making, watch Parks and Recreation and/or 21 Jump Street. Whenever I go home to visit (which is fairly often) I always beg my brother to watch 21 Jump Street with me. I think 21 Jump Street is basically the funniest thing in the world. If you ever ask me to watch 21 Jump Street, I will be on it like a dog on freshly-cut salami. In fact, you can ignore this entire bullet-point if you have a copy of 21 Jump Street. Just watch 21 Jump Street.
They could definitely make a porno spin-off of 21 Jump Street called 21 Hump Street, in which everyone gets on that drug which they’re trying to bust and has weird, S&M hallucinations. It would probably still be side-splittingly funny. Perhaps imagining your own spin-off porno’s is another way to cure the blues, as you reimagine your favourite comedies with ridiculous props and actors with names are like “Seedy Sam McGee Tits”.
I have been so distracted by 21 Jump Street and other funny things that I didn’t even mention excrement once in this point. That, my friends, is the power of comedy.
6. Cook something weird/new.
Making something successful (even just a little successful) which you can then CONSUME is a good way of fighting off the Shit Demons (well, maybe not, dependent on what you cook… [I disgust myself]). Cooking is also a fairly therapeutic task, which results in even more therapeutic smells of deliciousness. Good smells, in fact, is a subheading within this point, as good smells alone are good mood enhancers. Ever tried lighting incense when you’re pissed off? It’s lovely. And it smokes a bit, too, which can also fit a Dragon State (see point number one.)
Following instructions on a recipe, concocting something interesting and then consuming it is a time-taking, involving and ultimately win-win exercise which will have distracted you from your post at Shit Station and also will have filled your belly. I personally like to learn about different cultures and habits whatever opportunity I get, so the learning side of cooking something quite original from a foreign recipe (as well as the smug gratification you get from making something palatable) is a bonus happy-maker.
Somebody wise once said that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach – I think that this applies to healing your own sad heart, too, on bad days. Food helps. You can’t “eat your feelings” but you CAN comfort your tub.
And if you can’t be fucked to cook, get take-out. What ill can pizza also not cure?
7. SEE SOMEBODY. ANYBODY.
If you really need to wallow about your problems, I suggest two things:
- Writing a blog like this, using your issues to connect with others OR making your issues accessible from a comic standpoint, which I prefer
- See somebody. See anybody.
There are very few incidences in which I think wallowing alone works for extended periods of time. Wallowing for a couple of days, or even a week or two, is fine – if you need to get to grips with a problem or if you just need to be inside your cocoon for a bit, emerging later as a kickass butterfly who has taken control of the problem – that’s okay. However, the rest of the time I think it’s vital to wallow with people. Don’t isolate yourself too much.
Wallow with a friend. Wallow with your family. Wallow with a therapist. Go and see a buddy with the intention to wallow, and you will, most of the time, forget your problems. Either that, or your friend will have such a refreshing and helpful view of the situation, you forget why you thought it was so bad in the first place. Regardless, someone’s empathy, anyone’s empathy, is helpful when you’re feeling sad.
This point is also applicable to Monday: if you’re hating Mondays, make plans on Monday to look forward to. Later on today I’m going to drink green tea frappuccinos with my feminist angel Ellie (aforementioned in a previous feminism article.) This has made Monday look distinctly nicer. Despite it being crap Monday. Shit Valley is always better with a friend.
Make yourself see someone, even if you’re sleepy. You can just cuddle. You’ll feel better.
8. Look at WTF Japan, Seriously!?
This sort of ties in with my comedy point but WTF Japan, Seriously!? is basically the best website ever. I always refer to it when I’m taking a casual stroll down my mental Shit Country Walk, as it’s so bizarre and “out there” that you instantly forget all of your problems and get immersed into the weirdness emanating from the world’s best place.
This site also always inspires me to go and listen to J-pop, from which a sad note is never uttered. Before you know it, you’ll be in a little Japanese bowl of cheery, delirious greatness.
9. Wear something cuddly.
Wearing a cuddly scarf/cuddly cardigan/cuddly hat/cuddly pyjama bottoms (I actually did get away with doing this once – my pyjama bottoms sort of masquerade as normal trousers. I have learnt from this that you should always buy sneaky pyjamas which look like trousers). This is a brilliant technique for feeling better. My theory is that if you trick your brain into thinking that you haven’t left bed on a Monday morning when you go to work, it’ll be more satisfied with you and won’t give you as-heavy tired pangs or negative thoughts. It’s basically scientific.
I also spray my cuddly scarf with my favourite scent so that when I push my face into it I get a double-whammy of cheeriness – good smells and soft touches. An unbeatable combination.
10. Reflect upon the changeability of life.
Another wise guy once said “Shit Happens” – perhaps this was the wisest guy ever. Shit Happens. Having a bad run of stuff? Shit Happens. It’s Monday, not Saturday anymore? Shit Happens. You dropped your sandwich? Shit Happens (that’s really shit when that happens, though. Feel free to mourn your sandwich for a moment.)
The great thing about Shit Happens is that the flipside of that is Shit Also Doesn’t Happen. Life is very, very changeable. Bad stuff will happen to you but inevitably, good stuff will too. Monday is only one day. The week has an upward rise, Shit Valley will flush out and you’ll be in a regular old field. So don’t let yourself get caught up in a cat’s cradle of feeling crappy. Disentangle yourself. Shit Happens. You’ll be fine. Read some zen quotes from the Dalai Lama or Tolkein or whatever and you’ll be back on the right track to feeling better already. Or find the Shit Happens guy, and see what else he said. I imagine it’s just as profound.