Music forms a big part of most people’s lives. We grow up listening to it; are influenced by what our parents or siblings listen to and often find the best self-expression to be through music. But how can music help us deal with anxiety?
Personally, I have always loved singing. It’s never something I seriously thought about professionally but it’s something that has been of interest for as long as I can remember. I grew up listening to pop-punk and that’s still probably one of my favourite genres along with indie rock and that kind of thing. I got my first guitar in middle school, had a few lessons but then gave it up.
When anxiety hit me, I was stuck inside… a lot. I couldn’t go into school anymore and going out was a huge challenge. At that time, my guitar provided some sort of escape. I learned how to play a few songs using Ultimate Guitar (would highly recommend it) and I even wrote some of my own songs.
I spoke to my psychologist about it and he explained that playing guitar and singing may help because of breathing. It’s also because it gives you something to focus on. Playing an instrument helps so many people, not just those who want to be creative but those who struggle to be in the world that surrounds them. It provides a form of expression and takes your attention away from the hardships, at least for a little bit of time.
Writing songs (or poems) is a fantastic way to process some of those emotions you are experiencing. Those who suffer from anxiety can struggle greatly talking about what they are going through. Telling your story through song can be therapeutic and help focus that anxious energy into something creative. It doesn’t have to be a work of art and you never have to perform it for anyone. It’s something just for you.
Making music isn’t the only way it can help with anxiety. Listening to music can be just as advantageous. We all have our favourite genres and they can inspire us. There’s a good chance that when you were younger, your favourite song would play and you’d pretend to be in a music video or dance along. Music is good for the soul.
If you’re in a situation where you are experiencing anxiety, try creating a playlist of your favourite songs, put your headphones on and listen to it. Let it transport you somewhere else where you are living your best life and being yourself. If you are traveling to somewhere where you’re likely to feel anxious like school or work, play your music in the car and have a sing-along. It’ll stop you focusing on the potential future anxiety and help you focus on the moment.
Compiling a playlist of soothing music can be good for bedtime. Find something with a slower bpm so that it will encourage your heart rate down. Certain classical music can be good (personally I like piano renditions of Disney songs) as you can’t sing-a-long and it creates a relaxing atmosphere for you.
Music can help in countless ways, so experiment and find what suits you the best. Perhaps songwriting is more stressful for you than you’d like but listening to Metal music helps. Maybe you find learning a new instrument is the highlight of your day and takes you away from regular stressors. Whatever it is, there is some way that music can help you manage anxiety.
If you’re interested, you can listen to a few of my songs here: https://soundcloud.com/user-554014175