In life, everyone experiences tough times, whether their crisis is widespread, like a pandemic, or something entirely unrelated. While our key workers are doing vital, wonderful work, the best thing the rest of us can do is stay at home. Perhaps the most bizarre part of all this is that it’s a great time to be introverted. Storytelling is essential here. The arts offer mental wellbeing, social connection, and practical inspiration. So, whatever you’re going through, here are four genres that may be able to help.
Laughter is medicine
Comedy is a great genre, especially for the mind. Who doesn’t love curling up with a box set from their favourite witty novelist or slapstick sitcom? We can zoom through the fast-paced world of chick-lit characters. We can dabble with philosophy in The Good Place. Personally, I like the crazier stuff, from watching Basil Brush’s self-isolation videos to rediscovering fun with the gang from Miranda (another plus here: Hart herself is an amazing life coach).
Best of all is comedy’s number one side effect: laughter. Not only can it strengthen social bonds with those around us, it also combats any stress that would otherwise reduce our immune response. Even at its most biting satire, comedy provides a healthy way of dealing with the world around us.
Next up is a Taylor Magazine staple: matters of the heart. With all the genres mentioned in this article, there’s a lot of crossover with others. But perhaps this one is the best example of that. Originating in traditions of gothic fairy tales and medieval courtly love, romance has changed, but isn’t out of style. Nowadays, it’s usually paired with drama and/or comedy – and audiences are all for it.
The screen is taking the genre-blending even further. This Beautiful Fantastic follows the creation of a children’s book. Theatre fans can enjoy Shakespeare retellings in classics like She’s the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You. It’s even broken into science fiction: recent examples include the film About Time, penned by king-of-the-genre Richard Curtis, and Black Mirror’s ‘San Junipero’ episode. Romance, then, has something for everyone, whether you’re Team Peter Kavinsky or Team John Ambrose. Which brings me to…
Old (and new) favourites
Good news: book sales are on the rise! When you need an escape, imagination is everything. Missing the seaside? Why not pick up a beach read, especially one you haven’t read before? You might fall in love with something you didn’t think you’d like. Literature can be practical, too. YA, for example, is a genre of adventure and uncertainty in the unknown, of making mistakes and coming through it all. From Lara Jean’s high school drama to Zélie Adebola’s enchanting perils, we look to our protagonists in their tricky situations and feel inspired by their resilience.
This force for good extends to the gaming world. Reality would be a much better place if it were more like Animal Crossing, where players are using the latest instalment to hold the social gatherings they’ve had to cancel. Well, versions of them. The point is, the fiction we know and love best is often the greatest comforter. We will always revisit it, and it can lead us to find new favourites – or even create our own…
Keep it real
If fiction isn’t your thing, that’s great! In times of crisis, it’s never more important to stick to the facts. Storytelling can still help here. Sir David Attenborough’s soothing voice draws us into his wildlife documentaries, while The Great British Bake Off proves that reality TV can be wholesome entertainment.
Feeling powerless? You’re not alone. If you’re able to do something practical, why not try a new hobby? Foreign language skills will help you stay connected with other countries. The Marie Kondo method focuses on what matters most in life (but please also think of your refuse workers if you want to declutter!). With some YouTubers even donating their ad revenue to good causes, the factual genre is great for inspiring practical help – all without leaving the house.
Of course, these are only suggestions. Self-care is much more important than practical self-improvement. If you’re worried about what’s going on, read through expert advice; talk to someone about it all. It’s okay to not be okay, to not be productive in times of crisis. Make sure you get through this in a way that works for you. We’re thinking of you. Stay healthy.