To Spiral or Not to Spiral? A Work-From-Home Playlist That Won’t Make Your Head HurtJoni Mitchell by Jack Robinson/Getty Music Features coronavirus
My grandmother used to always tell us that she never got hungry—she just trained herself to eat at certain mealtimes and, thus, was always satisfied. I always thought this was an asinine method. Why not just wait until you’re hungry to eat?
Now, I finally understand where grandma Janet was coming from. As an editor, I’m already used to working from home occasionally, but in this new social distancing hiatus, I’m here doing 9-to-5 at home—like many of you—with most of my daily movements occuring between the couch and the kitchen table. I find that I’m not really hungry anymore. I wake up, drink coffee, make breakfast and before I even have time to process hunger, I’m on my feet rummaging the pantry for lunch items. Meals aren’t just for eating anymore—they’re a reason to stand up and do something besides type.
We’re all adjusting to this new reality. And I have to remember I’m one of the lucky ones—I have a job I’m able to do sprawled out on the carpet of my living room floor, unlike so many Americans who work in the service, entertainment and retail industries who now are unsure when their next paycheck will arrive. I will certainly survive this. I’m more than happy to comply with the best practices that will hopefully slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Most people who work in media or other jobs that can be easily carried out remotely, I think you’ll find, are in the same boat.
But working from your home for an extended amount of time—especially if it’s an apartment, and especially if you live alone—can eventually begin to feel like a crisis, even if your livelihood isn’t threatened. For people prone to depression and anxiety, this situation could be even worse. When I begin to think about the light at the end of the tunnel—when we will eventually return to the hustle of our daily lives—and how we don’t know when exactly that will be, I feel as if I’m on the brink of a spiral. But spiraling isn’t going to help anyone—especially not myself or my friends and family. We all just have to hunker down, and do so with a somewhat pleasant and hopeful attitude, or we’ll go insane.
That leaves us with a lot of extra free time, and, if we’re lucky, maybe even a little extra headspace. Maybe for you that means some bonus quality time with a partner or pet, children or other family members, or perhaps some to spend on a household project like a garden or paint job. That’s all great, but when it comes to getting through the workday, most of us could probably use a little push: lunch break spent diving headfirst into a new comfort TV binge, afternoon strolls around the neighborhood or maybe some dedicated listening to a new record you’ve been waiting to hear.
I’ve been craving a certain type of music during this time: warm, bright acoustics; thoughtful, low-tempo indie-folk; cheerful, smart pop; perky indie rock; sweet, simple country songs; songs about nature. Music that takes up just the right amount of your attention, but not so much that you can’t focus on whatever you’re working on at home. Something familiar, but also some new cuts mixed in to keep it colorful.
There’s a lot of coronavirus content floating around out there right now, which I’m sure includes many playlists meant to soothe, quiet and relax your exhausted soul. Here’s one more.
Stories and think-pieces about how this strange, potentially draining time is actually an opportunity are already plentiful. We’re being told to create, read, draw, play an instrument—to do all the things we always complain we never have enough time to do! It’s not a bad mindset to have. But I’d also argue that now is a good time to let yourself have a little quiet. This Work From Home playlist is full of songs I hope will provide you with that repose, if only for a few moments. I can’t promise that it will cure your worsening panic surrounding coronavirus, but I can’t imagine it will make it any worse. You could even listen to it over a homemade meal, whether you’re hungry or not.
Ellen Johnson is an assistant music editor, writer, playlist maker, coffee drinker and pop culture enthusiast at Paste. Occasionally moonlights as a movies fan on Letterboxd. You can find her yapping about all the things on Twitter @ellen_a_johnson.