Spectator Playlist: Spring and your mental health

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Sunday, March 28th, 2021 at 3:41 PM
Spectator Playlist: Spring and your mental health by Teddy Rankin
Graphic: Eric Johnson

Prescription: Listen to this playlist or any other combination of songs that make you smile.

(For best results, drive around Presque Isle with your windows down and volume up).

Much has been said about the pandemic’s impact on mental health, especially for college students. Recently, my social media timelines have been littered with empty sentiments like “don’t worry, you will get through this,” or some version of “depression is a choice.” However, the truth is that so much of what’s going on right now is totally out of our control and it can be soul-crushing. No shift in perspective can erase reality.

Isolation, Zoom fatigue and months of gloomy weather have added to an already overwhelming list of daily stressors to create a perfect storm. A recent study shows that about 85% of college students are experiencing moderate to high levels of distress during the pandemic. No one should feel bad about struggling with mental health, especially given our current circumstances. While it is understood that us college students are not unique in finding this time difficult, our emotions are no less valid.

With all that being said, there is no shortage of self-care tips online. You have probably scrolled past buzzword-infused infographics encouraging you to try yoga, organize your living space, take a shower and venture outside. While all that is helpful and well-intentioned, it can feel like a bandage over an axe wound to those currently struggling.

Any authority I may have on this topic comes from experience. I am currently in my second attempt at higher education after leaving a different university on medical leave in 2018 due to mental illness. It is something I deal with every day. Alongside therapy, I turn to my strongest coping mechanism: music. I voraciously consume it and even write some of my own songs. It transports me to a better state of mind. I truly cannot count the times that music has lifted my spirits in a dark day.

I can actually pinpoint the moment I connected music to mental fortitude. When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was treated with chemotherapy and radiation at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. On the frequent drives from Erie to Pittsburgh and back, my family and I listened to the Beatles over and over again. Getting lost in the melodies served as the perfect escape from any worries we had.

The songs on this playlist are the ones that are currently bringing a smile to my face. I hope they do the same for you. I encourage you to make your own playlist of your favorite upbeat songs for the times when your mind needs a vacation. Perhaps your life experiences haven’t led you to feel as strongly about music as mine have, and that is OK! I think it is about finding something you are truly passionate about and setting time aside to bask in it.

Drop your favorite spirit-lifting tracks in the comments or tag us on social media: @edinboronow.

Teddy Rankin is the Music Editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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