Here we are. It’s December 1, 2021. COVID-19. Economic uncertainty. Tragic school shootings. Civil unrest. And our mental health is taking a toll. Personally, I’m feeling the adverse effects of COVID fatigue, which includes shifts in my mood, lack of attention to self-care. And did I mention that any application of mindfulness to my nutrition has gone out the window?
But enough about me. With all that is going on in our world, I have to always remember what my wife tells me, “You can’t control what’s going on around you, but you can control how you respond.” She’s a very wise woman. She’s right. If I were to allow myself to get wrapped up in all of the chaos that this world has to offer, I would likely be paralyzed with fear and anxiety. And the truth is, some people are.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition, affecting 1 out of five people who have a diagnosable mental illness. Over 40 million people in the United States are dealing with some form of anxiety. And due to COVID, we are seeing these numbers increase dramatically across every demographic. And this is quite understandable. For all the reasons I stated at the beginning of this post, and more, many people are living in a constant state of “What if……?” This feeling creates stress which induces the fight, flight or freeze syndrome and the body responds by releasing cortisol, a hormone that can wreak havoc physically and mentally in a person.
So, what is a person to do? Well, if you have found your way to this blog, then you may be a music lover like me. And music has been my number one coping tool ever since I can remember. When I was a little boy, I used to fall asleep with the radio on. And even now, every night before I fall asleep I listen to music. I listen to music whenever I can. At home, while driving, at work, and right now as I am writing this blog. Everything seems to flow much better for me when I’ve got music.
But back to December. The title of this blog, “December Will Be Magic Again” is the name of a song by the British artist, Kate Bush. On a funny side note, I just got my 2021 Spotify Unwrapped notification and it stated that Kate Bush was my number one artist with well over 5000 minutes of listening time on the app alone. This doesn’t include the hours I’ve spent in the last year listening to her music on vinyl (I have all of the reissues as well as the incredible live “Before the Dawn” 4-lp box set and other assorted 12-inch, picture disc, and even her original 1979 live performance which was the only time she ever performed in person aside from her 21 night sold out appearance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London).
This song brings me particular joy. Kate’s lilting voice singing about Bing Crosby, Saint Nicholas, conjuring Oscar Wilde and kissing under mistletoe is enough to lift the spirit of the forlorn. It’s also a song of hope and expectation. It’s like when you’re a kid and you are giddy with excitement over the prospect of what is to come. So, for me, when I listen to this, I’m transported to another simpler, less complicated time. This song has been a part of my musical history since the first time I heard it nearly 40 years ago.
If you’re finding yourself in a difficult place this holiday season, please know that it’s okay to feel that way, but also know that you don’t have to stay there. There are many ways to overcome whatever challenge you may be experiencing. Music is just one of them. Use whatever tools you have at your disposal and don’t go it alone. The journey of mental health is meant to be shared.
Whatever faith system you ascribe to, or even if none at all, may the month of December bring you a sense of comfort and peace.
Be safe and Be well