When we think of healthy lifestyles, we tend to think of our bodies first. Exercising and eating right. Making sure we get enough sleep and drink enough water (there’s water in vodka, right?). We get these images in our heads of tanned, active people, with glistening muscles. That’s all well and good. (especially the images part) but we do tend to overlook emotional health.
As we learn more and more about the human brain, mental health is finally starting to be understood by the general public. People are increasingly taking time to meditate, to get up and walk around in order to center their thoughts, to make sure they disconnect from work at least a few hours a week in order to avoid burnouts, so forth. But emotional health, which is a subset of the bigger mental health umbrella, is still widely regarded as a buzz term without any concrete meaning.
What we experience affects us emotionally and that can take its toll. I never cease to amaze myself with these incredible insights! For the most part, we have little control or choice in what life throws out way. We have to grit our teeth and learn how to make the best of it. Lemonade and so forth. But one thing we can choose is the media we take in. You can make your life better with the anime you choose! Tell your parents – you need to watch 5 more episodes for your health… Just don’t tell your parents where you read that.
Different stories affect people differently of course, in fact they may affect the same person differently depending on a number of variables, so I can’t really make specific recommendations for all, I’ll just share a bit of my personal experience with you guys.
I have been guzzling down the Natsume comics lately. Beautiful picture I just painted there, isn’t it. Let me add some details. Whenever it’s not too inconvenient, I try to take public transport to go to work rather than drive. I hate being stuck in traffic and I much prefer being able to read and just daydream while getting to work. Originally, I use to actually work in the bus, going through my emails and polishing up reports but since I started the blog I use the time to read your posts or write my own. In the past weeks however, I have been reading about half a volume of Natsume before work.
And because Natsume is pure magic, I notice something unexpected.
I’m nicer. Well maybe that’s a stretch. I spend a half hour shedding melancholic tears and having my heartstrings hugged by the deeply tender adventures of Natsume and Nyanko. I usually get to work a little introspective and wistful. I’m usually the first one there. When I’m in that mood, very few things can get to me. I push aside unpleasant tasks until later if they’re not urgent and breeze through what I can do easily, set up my day. By the time someone knocks on my office door, I’ve come down from my cloud a little, but I still have this love and longing for others that’s purely due to Natsume.
In those times, I am happy to listen to people, eager to help them. I consider a smile my full reward. I don’t usher them out of my office despite hearing my email notification go off like a constant alarm. There’s a certain sense of clam and Zen that stays with me at least through lunch.
I’ve noticed other people’s assistants now come to me with problems. It appears I have been deemed “approachable”. My Tsundere tendencies want me to declare this annoying and roll my eyes, but something very deep in me is happy. I’m not sure whether that something was always there or if that’s Natsume too, but I’m glad I have it now.
A month or so ago, when I was watching Interviews with Monster Girls in the evening, I got flooded with this weird sense of …what’s the opposite of pity? Seeing the respectful and optimistic treatment the girls were getting made me think that people were going to be ok. It reminded me to approach those I might consider less fortunate with an open mind and not jump to conclusions. It ingrained it in me that pity and mercy aren’t the same. Basically, when my 94-year-old neighbor needed help up the stairs. I helped her, we joked around, and I thought to myself. Good on her – I hope I can still joke like that when I’m her age, instead of poor lady, she’s really having a tough time moving now.
On the other hand, I remember when I was watching Attack on Titan and MHA. Those shows energized me. They got my heart pumping and made me want to exercise, move around, be a hero. If anything, I was even less patient under the influence of these shows, but boy did I get things done. I renegotiated license agreements which such zeal that even my senior partners were starting to get a bit intimidated. I felt just a little more invincible. I also slept like a baby.
I’m a little slow, it took me a while to truly take in just how much of an impact the media I was consuming had on me. It’s super obvious when you think of it but we get busy. We have so much on our minds already that we push what isn’t immediately consequential, out of the way and then forget about it.
Lately, I’ve been trying to consciously pick my shows according to what I think I need. I will try to capitalize on moments of vigor by picking a sports or shonen show to get my blood pumping and keep those adrenaline levels high. I will stave off potential sads by binging a couple of comedies in a row, I will recenter myself with introspective and heartwarming slice of life series and make sure to challenge my brain and keep my mind nimble with weird psychological offerings that will make me think or at least wonder what the heck is going on. Once in a while, I’ll pick something I think I might dislike, to avoid getting complacent.
I rearrange my to watch list about twice a month. It’s probably mostly placebo but I think it’s working. I can’t wait to watch anime at the end of my work day because it’s exactly what I need at the moment. I am seeing things when I’m in the mood for them so I’m enjoying them much more and it’s bleeding into my daily life. I wake up every morning with something concrete to look forward to. And if something particularly annoying happens, I grab my Natsume, get a treat, find a comfy corner to hide with my book for 20 or so minutes, and come back serene and just a little more in love with the world and all its little nuisances.
What do you guys think? Should I put together an anime per mood list? An anime prescription primer. Take three episodes of FMA every 12 hours…