Pine & Ginger: Coping in the Age of Anxiety
Pine & Ginger: a sweet and spicy cocktail, an island smooth song, and the words that got us thinking: how do we really cope?
This winter one of my favourite songs to get me through the grey days was Pine & Ginger by Amindi K. Fro$t, Tessellated, and producer Valleyz. This dancehall-pop fusion had me bobbing my head and thinking, “Damn, I can relate.”
Not only because I love pineapple and ginger but because the verses had me reflecting on our collective anxiety; a generation characterized by being as equally privileged as we are miserable.
While shimmying along, dreaming about the sun and a cocktail, and thinking about how I can convince Kate to make that steak for me, I started to ask myself, why are we stressed and anxious? How are we coping? And how can we improve?
But before an answer to all your questions, a mid-size tangent.
How a Good Beat Got Me Thinking
If you enjoy an easy beat and a bit of island smooth, listen to Pine & Ginger. Amindi K. Fro$t starts the track solo, voice raspy and melodic with small doses of synth. By the chorus she’s also accompanied by horns and a down beat. It is a good-vibes tune by anyone’s interpretation. But the simple brilliance of the song comes from the contrast between the upbeat production and the darker lyrics.
Unsurprisingly, pineapple and ginger, a refreshingly sweet yet spicy juice or cocktail (check out the recipe below) commonly made during the Christmas holidays in Jamaica, has very little to do with the meaning of the track.
Him have the rum inna the sorrel
Him affi drink away him sorrow
Guess him nuh care bout tomorrow
In an interview in December 2017 with Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, Tessellated said,
“The song is really about the fact that everybody is dealing with the same issues, just in different ways, and we are simply commenting on the reality of how individuals cope.”
The track references sexuality, smoking and drinking as methods to manage stress.
But then comes the outro, which also speaks to stress relief through the creative process – in this case, writing.
Whether drinking, whether smoking
Whether writing down a song
Pen and paper to the open
I listened to the track so often, I started to reflect on the triggers that caused my stress and the measures I used to cope. For me, the verse about writing was personal. Once a long time ago, I used to write regularly, it was one of my favourite hobbies and emotional outlets.
But then there was school, and later work, and over time an increasing tally of responsibilities. One day I stopped.
Why are we stressed?
Some are calling this era the “Age of Anxiety”. Over the past 50 years, there has been a noted trend of increased levels of anxiety and depression worldwide. There are innumerable articles online giving reasons as to why so many young people (millennials, in particular) are unhappy or unsatisfied. I decided to focus on the opinions of experts: an open Reddit discussion and academic articles. Funny enough, many similar reasons were listed by both, albeit a bit more colourfully on Reddit.
Five Reasons why students and millennials are lost, unhappy, or in mental crisis
- Informational Overload. Academic Community says: access to psychologically disturbing information (war), possible threats (global warming), downward comparisons due to social media. Reddit says: “Thanks to modern technology, no other generation in history has been able to see how fucked they are in stunningly realistic high definition.”
- Existential confusion and the collapse of meaning. Academic Community says: with the dethronement of religion there has been a loss of a clear moral compass and purpose. Focus has shifted to hedonism and materialism. Reddit says: “Nobody was ever taught how to be content, only how to be successful. Now people hate themselves and we wonder why.”
- Economic and Financial pressures. Academic Community says: individuals are unemployed or underemployed, greater levels of debt for students and graduates. Reddit says: “…the cost of a degree has shot through the roof. And that because everyone is told [college] is the only way to success, it is so over saturated that there aren’t nearly enough college jobs for everyone that is getting a degree. 20 years ago having a degree in nonsense was plenty, today a relevant degree often isn’t enough.”
- Self-Esteem Nation/Nation of Wimps. Academic Community says: excessive coddling to protect children from negative experiences in the last 30 years has led to their inability to cope with disappointment. Reddit says: “We are the trophy generation. Growing up we all got trophies just for participating. It gives a false sense of reward…When you’re expecting rainbows and sunshine for the rest of your life you can’t handle the rain.”
- The Narcissistic Epidemic. Academic Community says: a generation with more confidence and entitlement but who lack coping skills and empathy. Reddit says: “Personally, I chalk it up to the played-out entitlement argument. We think we deserve stuff like the dream job or the dream house or -ahem- trips to Disneyland. Frankly I think many of us don’t understand what the term “hard work” means, and how much time and effort is required to make the ideal ends meet.”
There are many other explanations that can be attributed to the lingering unhappiness among millennials such as careers, interpersonal relationships, family planning, as well as, physical and mental health.
However, the one general cause that I could apply to the independent and driven people that I know is an unrealistic pressure to succeed, compounded with a sense of urgency and fear that they have not accomplished nearly enough.
How are we coping? How are we making it worse?
I’m not dropping any groundbreaking knowledge here: exercise and eating well are both great ways to manage stress and increase happiness. But it’s equally important to know which habits are proving to be unhelpful in our efforts to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Caffeine. Don’t hate, but coffee, a stimulant that increases physical reactions such as jitteriness, can cause anxiety. Ideally, we should be reducing our intake. (I said don’t hate!)
Alcohol (to no one’s surprise) is also a big offender. (Again, don’t hate me! I’m just the messenger!) It dehydrates the body and ultimately increases anxiety (especially the morning after a particularly thirsty night) and it can increase depression. I’m not saying don’t drink, but I do think we should be aware of how it can impact us.
No shocking revelations so far, but there were a few surprises. Did you know that compulsive shopping, emotional eating, skipping meals, smoking, socializing with other anxious people, watching too much TV, playing too many video games, and spending too much time on social media have all been linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety, and decreased levels of happiness? Real talk.
Needless to say, I’m guilty of over indulging more than a few of these unhealthy habits. How can I (we) do better?
How to be your best self and shake off that stress and anxiety
Another small tangent. Have you ever felt like you’ve been running an endless race and losing? A few years ago, I decided that I was tired of being tired.
Exhausted by a constant and ever-growing plague of anxieties, I made a conscious and continuing effort to redefine my priorities, refocus my energy on the positive, and take control of my happiness. Here are a few suggestions (backed by real doctors) on how you can do it too:
Accept the things you cannot change and take control of the things you can
Venting, perhaps about an employer, or perhaps about the affordability of the city you live in, is inevitable. And, it can even be cathartic for the first few times. A year in? It’s just soul-crushing. And you need to break that cycle.
Take stock of your priorities. All that energy spent poisoning your own well would be better spent changing the things within your control. You hate your boss and the shitty work given to you? Have a pity party, give yourself a week, then find a new job. You can’t afford a home in your city? Buy a lottery ticket, then visit a financial advisor (YEAH WEALTHSIMPLE!) and consider the options you CAN make work (trade in that vision for a multi-bedroom Victorian and instead check out a killer condo in a new neighbourhood, knowing that square footage does not matter, and there are so many ways you can transform a small space into the pad of your dreams. Check out these small, cool apartments for inspiration).
We need to learn to concentrate on the things we have control over so we stop feeling helpless. Take ownership of your life and empower yourself to find solutions that meet your wants and your needs.
Setting new goals helps us to build confidence, but that doesn’t need to mean that only lofty goals are worth pursuing. Don’t forget to pursue goals which are readily attainable while you continue to follow your big ambitions! For example, I liked language, reading, and writing when I was younger. Currently, I’m in a Spanish class, I’m in a book club, and I’m writing this post. What activity would make you feel accomplished and how can you do it today?
Being positive is a mindset that can be worked towards. Try to define the things that you are grateful for in life. It’s easy to fall into a perpetual cycle of negative thought. Work against that instinct.
Constantly remind yourself to accept that there are things you cannot change, and then focus on the things you can. The sun will rise in the east, set in the west and your colleague Nick will always be an ass. But, just because Nick sucks doesn’t mean your entire day needs to.
Find a killer recipe to make for dinner this week, and spend your day dreaming of that drool-worthy dish. (Even better, find a recipe that can be shared with your friends, and get started on an impromptu mid-week dinner party. (Remember that steak I was telling you about earlier? It’s totally going to be dinner for me and Kate.) Put together a throwback playlist to listen to while you pick up groceries and make dinner (or play sous chef and help a friend cook). Don’t you feel better?
While it may take time, refocusing on positive thoughts and changeable outcomes will help you leave stress induced pessimism behind.
Connect with People
Maintain a good support network of family and friends. A good network will help you find solutions to your troubles. They can get you to laugh, relax, and remind you of better times. They are also great when you need that confidence to move forward or when you need someone to call you out on defeatist thinking. This is why we have #squadgoals.
Do you. Make time to do what makes you happy! Cook, go to a museum, travel, dance, sing, play a sport, take a walk, listen to music. Make sure to have quality time away from work or any other regular stressors.
There is nothing listed above that I haven’t done or experienced. Part of living your best life is taking responsibility for your choices and empowering yourself. If you want to be happy, reflect on your misery, then reprioritize your goals and follow through. No more complaints!
Now, I’m going to put my tunes back on, sip this cocktail, and start looking for another recipe.
Make: Pine & Ginger
Recipe: ENSEMBL Team (adaptation from a classic cocktail with Jamaican origins)
- 1 pineapple (use peeled skin only)
- 1 c of sugar (we used cane sugar)
- 6 limes (juiced)
- 3 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 8 cups of water
- Dark rum
- Wash the pineapple well with water, then peel, trying to get the least amount of flesh as possible.
- In a large sauce pan, pour 8 cups of water. Add the pineapple skin and ginger. Turn on high and boil for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Using an emulsion blender, blend the skins, ginger and water until smooth.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl to separate the liquid from the pulp. Discard the pulp.
- Add the lime and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Refrigerate until it is cold.
- To serve, mix 1 part rum with 3 parts juice in a glass. Ice optional.
The added bonus of making Pine & Ginger is that you are really only using the pineapple skin – the actual fruit is left untouched.
Pineapple for breakfast? A pineapple upside down cake? Pineapple to snack on while you sip your cocktail? The possibilities are endless.
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