10 Sunny Songs for When Life Feels Shady

Uplifting summer music

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Got the summertime blues? Is your sunny summer songs playlist ready? Eddie Cochran may be right about there being no cure for the summertime blues (yes, it’s a real thing!), but there is a remedy. It’s hard to keep a good song down, and a good summer song is practically impossible to ignore. No matter how you may feel, summer favorites are always capable of elevating your mood.

Can you think of any memory from any summer that isn’t somehow related to songs like “Forget You,” “Shut Up and Dance,” ‘Sugar,” and “Despacito?”

Just as the stifling heat and warm weather blues are getting ready to settle in (brace yourself for the days to start getting shorter come June 22… wait, didn’t summer just begin?), don’t despair. You may love what’s in the Popular Music Top 40, but you may also like to mix your summer sunny-ness with some bittersweet nostalgia.

Below is a timeless, surefire summer songs 2018 playlist, worthy of being blared at summer cookouts, blasting while you drive around and sing with the windows down, and kicking through the speakers while you kick back at the pool. Sunny and sure to make you smile.

  1. “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles (1969)

A great song inspired by hating your summer job. When Beatles manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, the band members had to handle more of their own paperwork, accounting, and business management. And one Beatle in particular (George Harrison) hated it. Harrison wrote the song after a long afternoon of business meetings, while playing one of Eric Clapton’s guitars, in Clapton’s garden. The inspiration came from England’s long, dreary, and seemingly endless winters. “No piece of music can make you feel better than this,” said Tom Petty, one of Harrison’s good friends. “It’s such an optimistic song, with that little bit of ache in it that makes the happiness mean even more.”

  1. “Dancing Days” by Led Zeppelin (1973)

Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant is all about summer celebrations of getting down and cutting loose on long, hot evenings: “Dancing days are here again, as the summer evenings grow,” Plant enthusiastically wails. Led Zep recorded “Dancing Days” at Mick Jagger’s mansion, and following the session, the band was so stoked they went outside, blared it through the studio speakers, and danced to it in a carefree way that only summer can inspire. Just like you should do.

  1. “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976)

Only Tom Petty could take an urban legend from the 1960s about a University of Florida co-ed taking hallucinogens for the first time, thinking she could fly, and then tumbling face down on the concrete below her window (some versions of the tale maintain that she leapt from as high as the 13th floor). In a day of limitless possibilities, such an event represented the seeming end of innocence experienced by an entire generation later in the 70s. For his first album, Petty wrote an upbeat, engaging, and relevant song around this haunting sense of disillusion. “…It was the start of writing about people who are longing for something else in life, something better than they have,” said Petty. As morose as that may sound, as summer roadtrip songs go, there aren’t many that compare.

  1. “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” by Pavement (1992)

It’s too early to be thinking about summer winding down in a couple of months, too early to think about loading up the car after vacation and heading back to your day-to-day grind. Pavement, in this surprisingly upbeat tune, captures all the melancholy and anxiety of the end of a summer romance. “In an abandoned houseboat, I’ll wait there, I’ll be waiting forever…You’re my summer babe.” Too much fun NOT to enjoy in the sun.

  1. “Staring at the Sun” by U2, Live Acoustic Version (1997)

Though the album version fell short of expectations, the uplifting, summery live acoustic version of “Staring at the Sun” by Bono and the Edge is nothing other than charming. “I think it nails a certain mood, where you actually don’t want to know the truth because lies are more comforting,” said Bono about the tune. Fitting, since the first time the entire world-renowned band attempted to play this song live, they were all playing at different tempos, and it fell flat on its face in front of the Las Vegas crowd. A little bit of schadenfreude is good for the soul, no matter what time of year it is.

  1. “Drop it like it’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell (2004)

No one does cool in the summer than Snoop Dogg. Drop it. Park it. Pop it. Straight from the ultimate timeless summertime dance party playlist, this 2004 hit featuring Pharrell dares you to NOT bump to it whenever it starts to play.  “Two!” “one!” “yep, three!” S-N double O-P, D-O double G…”

  1. “Walkin’ on the Sun” by Smash Mouth (1997)

This bouncy song about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots was written by Smashmouth’s guitarist, Greg Camp, in a tongue-in-cheek spirit of “can’t we all get along?” Camp wanted to capture how he felt about that time in U.S. history, like things were spiralling out of control, and “like we might as well be walking around a planet on fire.”

  1. “Steal My Sunshine” by Len (1999)

Nothing screams late 90s like any number of the lighthearted hip-hop-alt-pop-influenced musical jaunts from that era (e.g., Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Beck). This trippy, catchy, bouncy summer song is all about baking in the sun atop your favorite park bench, sipping on frozen slushies, and wondering where your summer love all went wrong: “My mind was thugged, all laced and bugged, all twisted round and beat.” Though it’s about a bit of a downer, this tune still makes you feel great.

  1. “Heavy Metal Drummer” by Wilco (2002)

Remember going down to the river in the summer and listening to heavy metal cover bands with your special friend? Most of us don’t either. But Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy came up with the perfect song about rocking out in the summer on the river landing, “I miss the innocence I’ve known…playing KISS covers, beautiful and stoned.” Can such a fun summer song feel so sweetly nostalgic and achy at the same time? Hear for yourself.

  1. “A Little More Summertime” by Jason Aldean (2016)

Sadly, summer always comes to an end. But not without memories of all those unforgettable moments: long, sultry days on the beach, followed by warm, humid nights at the local carnival. Enough to make you wish you could stop time and savor it just a little bit longer. This summer song will make you feel warm, happy, and wistful, all at the same time. And you wouldn’t trade in those memories for anything.

Music really can make you feel better. What do you think about our playlist? Did we miss any of your favorites? We’d love to hear what songs keep you going in the summer!

Are you struggling with summertime blues? Not to worry, it is very common. If you or someone close to you needs to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.


I Can’t Talk About My Mental Illness

mental illness conversation

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“Who can I talk to about my mental illness?”

So, you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. You might be feeling like your world is coming to an end, but it’s not. Life goes on, and it’s up to you to “keep on keepin’ on.” And you are not alone.

There are things in everyone’s life that don’t make one eager to share with others: A break-up, job loss, loss of a pet or a significant person in one’s life, a mental illness diagnosis, etc. The list goes on.

Who can you talk to about your mental illness? Why would you want to? Whom can you trust? It’s easy for many people to shut down and turn inward at times when what they really should be doing is building a support system and getting buy-in, support, and understanding from others, especially those they feel closest to: friends, family members, trusted members of the clergy, a trusted counselor.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you are NOT your mental illness, and you should never feel ashamed about being diagnosed with one. You’re not inferior to anyone because of your diagnosis. It’s not your fault and there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with you. You shouldn’t feel any more ashamed than if you were to have broken an arm, or caught a cold.

You have a condition, a mental illness, it is manageable, and it’s absolutely OK to talk about it.

The more you talk openly about your mental illness, the easier it will get. It’s just your “normal.” If you’ve decided to confide in someone you about your mental illness, you might feel anxious about how it will go, what the person may think, and what he or she may say.

Everyone’s different, and no two people will ever have the exact same response to a situation, but most human beings are rational and reasonable. Your odds are good that they won’t “flip out” or ostracize you from society, especially if they are someone who cares about you like a parent, sibling, significant other, or friend. Don’t let fear of rejection control you.

What can you expect when it comes to this kind of a conversation?

This conversation is merely the opening of an ongoing dialogue. No, talking about mental illness is not just a “one and done,” kind of scenario. There will be plenty of more interactions and conversations in the future. At least you’ve gotten much of the “heavy lifting” done by opening the doors for an honest prologue.

Though it might feel awkward at first, you’ll probably feel somewhat relieved to get this off of your chest. It might be tough to broach the subject, but remember that it’s always cathartic to be able to open up and share something that’s been weighing on you, and that you have been guarded about. Chances are the person you’re sharing with has had similar personal experience, or knows someone who has received a similar diagnosis. This should help you feel not so alone.

Anticipate questions. For example, “How long have you known about this?” “Can you tell me what it’s like?” “Did something traumatic happen to trigger all this?” “How are you managing it?” You are under no obligation to have an appropriate response to every question. In fact, “I’m not sure how to respond to that” or “I’m not sure how to describe it for you” are perfectly acceptable and reasonable answers. The person probably isn’t “grilling you” or being nosey. He or she probably wants to understand what you’re experiencing and feeling in order to be able to help.

What if the person doesn’t understand? This may happen, and even though the person you’re sharing with may have some experience, they may not be able to relate to exactly what you’re struggling with. He or she may not know what it “looks like.” That’s also OK. You don’t need him or her to possess a full understanding of your plight in order to feel validated yourself.

The reaction you’re hoping for? Prepare yourself for the reality that you might not get it. It might feel frustrating to open up a dialogue that’s so meaningful to you only to be told “M’eh, it’s all in your head,” or “Everyone feels blue from time to time. It’ll pass,” or “You should think more positively,” or “Don’t be so dramatic; you’re fine!”   Though it’s often unpleasant to hear the things that people are “supposed to say” in such a situation, try to remember that it’s just  social conditioning that prompts such responses. Be patient and make it clear that your mental illness is making it extremely difficult for you to live a happy and healthy life, and that you aren’t sure exactly how to proceed toward a resolution. If for whatever reason the individual doesn’t quite “get you,” don’t let it faze you, and don’t let it push you backward into despair. Who else can you share with to open up a more constructive dialogue?

The journey ahead may seem long, but it’s worth it. Your mental health issues might be the result of a specific event or situation (e.g., mourning a loss), but once you’ve had time to process your thoughts and feelings, your condition may improve significantly. An adjustment or change may also be just what you need (like getting a transfer or a new job if you’ve been dealing with a bully at work). You may, however have a long term illness. While mental illness is common and treatable, it might take a few different tactics and approaches before you find what works for you personally.

You may need to talk to a mental health professional next. Don’t put it off, and remember that your mental illness is NOT a reflection of your inherent value as a human being. Your mental health professional’s responsibility is to assist you in finding your way to a place where you feel confident at having the tools and coping skills to effectively manage your mental health going forward. A combination of appropriate medication and counseling can be very effective, and in many cases, it may not be an every week thing, necessarily.

Finally, yet another reminder: No matter how anyone responds to you sharing about your mental illness, you are NOT your mental illness, so never give up on yourself. You can do this.

Are you worried about not feeling confident talking to anyone about your mental illness? Remember that it’s treatable and manageable! If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.



What to Do Today to Overcome Social Anxiety

Overcome Social Anxiety

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Social anxiety disorder goes beyond just the occasional bout of nerves or feeling self-conscious about being “shy.” We all feel nervous or out of our element from time to time, maybe on a first date, or in a job interview, but social anxiety (social phobia) is so much more than that. Social anxiety disorder is a condition made manifest by an intense, crippling fear of being embarrassed in social situations—it makes someone so fearful, in fact, that it interferes significantly in normal, day-to-day activities. Just imagine being so terrified of being embarrassed and awkward around other people that you would go out of your way to avoid any such situation where others might be. It strengthens and reinforces one’s feelings of worthlessness and solitude that may already exist.

Someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder may show symptoms such as shortness of breath (not unlike a panic attack), an upset stomach or nausea, accelerated heart rate, and/or severe dizziness. The bigger problem lies in the utter disruption of one’s normal life activities, such as speaking up in a meeting, speaking with authority figures, meeting someone of the opposite sex or going out on a date, or being called on at work or in class.

Social anxiety is quite common, and if you can relate to this description, you are not alone. Every case is different, and triggered by different situations. Social anxiety can be triggered by specific social situations, or to social situations in general. The one common thread that all those who suffer from social anxiety share, is that the fears themselves are very real to the individual experiencing them. In addition to avoiding social situations, some people try to mask their anxiety by having an alcoholic drink or popping some pain medication before entering a social situation. This type of avoidance behavior can lead to substance dependence and addiction.

Rather than fixating on what causes your social anxiety, or on what you can do to get out of that work party where you know you’ll have to interact with others, focus about what you can do naturally to work on overcoming your social anxiety over time. Here are a few things you can start practicing today:

Manage your breathing. One of the first signs of an anxiety/panic attack is shallow, accelerated breathing and heart rate (hyperventilation). Learning to slow your breathing down can help buffer any physiological symptoms you may be experiencing. Sit comfortably, consciously begin inhaling slowly through your nose, holding your breath for two seconds, and then exhaling slowly out of your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes until your breathing is under control.

Manage self-deprecating thinking. Your behavior is driven in large part by how you perceive yourself in relation to those around you. If you’re constantly kicking yourself for being “dull, unremarkable, stupid, incompetent,” etc., your behavior will reflect that accordingly. Begin by becoming more conscious and aware of your moment to moment thoughts, especially before entering a social situation. Scrutinize and challenge each negative thought as they come. (“Unremarkable? Incompetent? I am great at my job and well-liked among my co-workersI have delivered several speeches confidently.” “Stupid? I can hold my own with the best of them in a discussion.” “How am I dull? I have a very busy life!”

Face your fears, live your dreams. This may sound daunting, but think of it this way: instead of avoiding what terrifies you the most, get used to confronting it so that it doesn’t bother you nearly as much. Start small, and be patient with the process. (Start by saying “hi” to strangers, move up to making a comment about the weather as you pass someone by, then up to striking up a conversation, etc. Baby steps!)

Focus on other people. Surely you’ve heard about the “imagine others in their underwear” trick. But seriously, focus on what others are doing or wearing, and use that as a cue to enthusiastically engage someone else in a conversation in order to make a sincere connection. Maybe someone needs help with something (“That is a great bracelet! Where on earth did you get it? Can I get the door for you?”)

Rinse and repeat. Even with your best efforts at re-conditioning yourself to respond confidently in social situations, you may still find treatment and/or medication helpful to manage your symptoms. Just remind yourself to be patient with the process, and to never give up.

Are you “socially anxious?” If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about managing social anxiety better, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.


Complicated Bereavement or Major Depression?

Complicated bereavement vs depression

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It can be difficult, even for a seasoned professional clinician, to tell the difference between depression and complicated bereavement.

Let’s consider comparing complicated bereavement vs. depression, or major depression. A layperson’s definition of depression involves what has become a “buzz word” of sorts. We’ve come to use the term to describe everything from having the normal, occasional bout of sadness (or the “blues”) all the way to up to very serious mental illnesses, including what has been referred to as major, or clinical depression.

It is important for professionals not to overdiagnose the everyday blues, but it is at least equally important not to overlook major depression when it exists. More serious mental illnesses (as opposed to a simpler case of the blues) involve a spectrum range of severity, duration, symptoms, and clinically significant distress/impairment. For example, to be considered a clinical condition, symptoms need to have existed consistently every day for at least two weeks.

Occasional sadness is a normal part of life, and it comes and goes, as does grief and mourning, which typically involve the loss of a loved one. Complicated bereavement disorder (also known as complicated grief) however, involves a severe case of mourning a loss, which can incur a debilitating mental health condition that only gets worse over time, rather than improving.

The grieving process is natural, but unpredictable. “Normal” grievers tend to vacillate between shock, denial, depression, back to shock again, and so on. Ultimately, they are able to resolve their emotional roller coaster and come to an acceptance of the loss.

Complicated grievers, however, go through the stages of grief, without reaching any sort of resolution or acceptance. Their grief for the loss of the loved one is exacerbated by feelings of hopelessness for the future, waves of painful emotion, and intrusive thoughts and memories of the deceased that retard their ability to work through the grief naturally.

Factors such as a pre-existing mental health condition, substance abuse issues, and/or an overwhelming number of stressors, can complicate the normal grieving process,  increasing the probability of the grief becoming a case of complicated bereavement that may call for professional clinical intervention.

If you, or a friend or loved one seems to be suffering from either major depression or complicated bereavement disorder, the last thing you’ll want to do to yourself or to him or her is go into drill sergeant mode and tell yourself or the individual to “snap out of it.” Let yourself, or him or her feel, experience, and process whatever may be necessary. Listen and be supportive. Impeding the recovery process in any way will only delay the resolution. Grief and depressive feelings need to be fully processed and dealt with, and this will take time.

A professional diagnosis, by a professional who can put the right treatment plan into motion is important. The DSM-5 (American Psychiatric. Association, 2013) includes a diagnostic codes to assist with the most accurate diagnosis possible.

It’s worth noting that both major depression and complicated grief can be exacerbated by additional depressive symptoms, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and/or substance abuse problems.   The sooner the condition can be properly diagnosed, the better, before the condition continues worsening.

A feasible combination of professional skill, therapy, counseling, and medication can help you or your loved one deal with depressive symptoms or with complicated bereavement to help with a coming to terms with the loss. Eventually, the therapeutic process can help get to a place of being engaged normally in relationships, feel hope for the future again, and back to enjoying life.

Do you suspect that you, a good friend, or a family member may be suffering from clinical depression or complicated bereavement following a loss? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about managing a mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we want to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.