Letter #56

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a thoroughly bloody lovely week. It’s still insanely busy at work – but I won’t bore you with that for a third week running 😂. As promised, there’s a few things I’ve been saving up for the last few weeks, and this week’s playlist is filled with utter bangers. You heard me.

I’ve spent the week listening to music that gives me an instant surge in energy (even at the points when I’m most exhausted). If you’re getting ready to go out, working hard, or need an instant pick me up, this week’s mixtape is for you. It takes no prisoners, and makes no apologies.

BUT before I give you the link, I have a request. This week a friend (hi Frith!) told me about a show on Netflix called Nanette. I try not to be too preachy. I try not to be too demanding. But please, for the love of all things good and great in the world, please watch this. It’s the most powerful, enlightening, infuriating, anger-inducing thing I’ve ever watched in my whole life. I beg you, please watch it. It’s had a profound and immediate impact on me, and I’m going to watch it again this weekend.

🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Stuff to do: read Rave On, it is excellent; if you’re in the North of the UK then get yourself down to By The River Brew Co; read Ways of Seeing (a gift from my excellent mother in law); listen to Blawan’s excellent Essential Mix; listen to this brilliant interview with mixtape favourites Emanative; learn more about the art of sound in film; read this great New Yorker piece on George Clinton; listen back to Tina Edwards’ excellent worldwide.fm show with Nubya Garcia; learn more about Alexander Nut’s record collection; sign up for a class in storytellingwith Pixar; and if you’ve got kids, get yourself down to Fabric (seriously).
📚 The notes 📚
A few weeks I wrote about mental health, and it seemed to strike a chord. I’ve had so many people get in touch with me about since sending it. Some people have shared their own stories, and a lot of people have shared more links, and some people shared their personal coping mechanisms too. It’s touched on in Nanette, and I wanted to share some of the brilliant pieces that been written recently too.

The first was this reflection on personal mental illness experiences from Hannah Jane Parkinson in the Guardian. Parkinson’s personal story and views create a clear delineation between poor mental health, and mental illness, it’s heartbreaking to read what she’s going through, but important to move the conversation away from awareness and into action, and equally important to create a distinction between poor mental health and mental illness.

Matt Haig also shared his personal experiences with anxiety in the Telegraphrecently, and this is definitely worth a read. His story feels especially pertinent (personally), as one of the triggers for his anxiety is technology overload (more below). James Blake (who I mentioned in Letter 53) opened up about his experiences with mental health, and talked about triggers too. He also landed a brilliant point about the dangers of conflating creativity and mental illness (again, also mentioned in Nanette – seriously, it’s great).

I was also a bit disappointed with myself when I wrote about mental health. While I might’ve mentioned my personal experiences, I didn’t share my coping mechanisms, and I should’ve done. So I thought I’d share them today.

Meditation: last year I was using Headspace twice a day. It was a personal revolution, and then I dropped the habit. I’ve started again, recently, as I didn’t really notice the massive difference it made until I stopped. Two weeks back in and I’m already noticing a huge benefit.

Space: when I’m really busy, I have to carve out time (even if it’s just five minutes) to go for a walk on my own. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised I need a bit of space sometimes. This is most likely connected to the whole introvert extrovert thing.

Technology: I installed an app a few months ago that showed how many times I picked my phone up, and how much time a day I was spending on my phone. I was properly shocked. There are loads of studies about blue screen and sleep, but cutting down my phone time gives me an immediate effect and sense of calm. I can’t really limited my screen time at work, but I’ve got to learn to curb it at home.

Reading: I try to read as much as possible (I’d rather read than watch telly, but would rather listen to music that read). Depending on what I’m reading, it helps me sleep, gives me a bit more mental flexibility, and (depending on the subject) a bit of escapism. It also feeds this newsletter 🙂

Talking: I’m trying to talk more openly about how I feel with regards to my mental health. I will keep doing this here.

Anyway, I’ve prattled on enough, and I’ve got work to do. As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

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