by: Finn McCarty
As someone with anxiety, I often have panic attacks. My heart rate quickens, my palms start sweating, the whole package that lets me know that I’m on the brink of one. Immediately, I spring into action, scrambling for my phone and headphones. I open the music app and turn on my ‘Anti-Anxious’ playlist. Very soon, a sense of relief washes over me. Mission accomplished.
Music is known to be a natural remedy for stress. According to Portland Music Therapy, “When the body is stressed, it may feel tense and tight. Listening to music can help facilitate relaxation.”
It has also been recognized in ancient practices. Portland Music Therapy states that, “In Native American culture, there are more than 1,500 songs that are used for healing purposes.” Ancient Greece also used music to express emotion in plays.
The tempo and vibrations of the music can be a helpful factor to the effectiveness. Certain tempos and vibrations of instruments can make a person feel at ease, and even drowsy. This is because, according to Harvard Health Publishing, “The human brain and nervous system are hard-wired to distinguish music from noise and to respond and repetition, tones and tunes.
Personally, I think songs by indie/ indie rock artists like Briston Maroney and flor are the most calming. This is probably because music is one of my main comforts, and since it is my favorite genre, it is probably where I receive the sense of calm.
WHS senior Audrey Mainville says, “I listen to folk music, like 60s and 70s because it’s just simple.” When I asked why this calms her down, she said, “I think there’s good harmony and good guitar. Just not as many theatrics as other songs. It’s very simple and easy to listen to.”
WHS teacher John Martin says, “[When anxious] I like to listen to music that I’m familiar with. I also like to listen to music that is naturally calming. So for me right now, it’s Bon Iver. I love their music because he has a high falsetto voice that calms me, and also the background music is a lot of atmospheric noise-pop, and for me it almost acts like white noise at times and helps calm me down.”
Although it may not be helpful for some people, I think that music can be a very effective way to reduce anxiety. It is a valid coping skill that should be taught to more people. Everyone, whether or not they have anxiety, should have some sort of coping skills to deal with stress.
Check out Finn's "Anti-Anxiety" Playlist below on Spotify!:
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