by Laura Geftman, LCSW
We all do different things to manage our anxiety. For centuries, every different culture has used music to enhance wellbeing and improve health conditions. Finding the songs that help you identify and and manage your anxiety can be amazingly affirming.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is an important basic survival function we all use as a coping skill. It’s your body’s natural response to stress. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point of their lives. It’s also a very normal response to stressful life events. It’s like an alarm system that get activated when we feel danger or threat.
A natural human reaction, anxiety is reflected in our bodies and minds. We feel a physical sensation when our bodies react to danger like:
- faster heartbeat
- panting or breathing faster
- tense muscles
- sweaty palms
- queasy stomach
- trembling hands or legs
These reactions are caused by a rush of adrenaline and other chemicals that prepare the body to deal with threats. Bodily changes can be mild to extreme. Ordinary anxiety comes and goes. It doesn’t interfere with your everyday life.
10 Natural Remedies for Anxiety
It’s no secret that your lifestyle choices could be contributing to your anxiety. Changing your habits can change your level of anxiety. Here are some natural remedies to consider incorporating into your days:
- Getting enough sleep – The relationship between anxiety and sleep is well known. The more anxiety you experience, the less you sleep. Managing your sleep with herbs, supplement, and breathing exercises can help your healing.
- Meditating – This mind-body practice is a low-risk holistic approach to exploring your thoughts and feelings. These moments of stillness , bring a sense of calm that can lend to motivation, decision making, and increased productivity.
- Staying active – Exercise not only benefits you physically but emotionally as well. Regulare exercise can have lasting impact on your wellbeing.
- Eating healthy – Sugar and refined carbohydrates found in processed foods can create sugar high and lows which can lead to anxiety.
- Avoiding alcohol – Studies have shown that alcohol is associated with a lower risk of anxiety (source). It’s suggested that you avoid alcohol completely or at least limit your intake to 1-3 drinks per week.
- Avoiding caffeine – Caffeine can induce anxiety (source). Those struggling with panic disorder or social anxiety have been found to be particularly sensitive to caffeine. Consider only drinking one cup per day or switching to tea.
- Use cannabis/CBD – The new info about cannabis is starting to prove that cannabis can regulate dopamine, calm your nerves, and create focus. While cannabis strain with higher levels of THC tend to provoke anxiety, many people report CBD to be very effective to manage anxiety.
•Listen to music…
Music Therapy for Anxiety
Music can help you process emotions, trauma, and grief. It can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or depression. Therefore music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals. Music can be used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. It’s been proven to help modulate levels of serotonin, spinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin (source). It incorporates creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to music. Often it’s found that clients abilities to express themselves improves through music.
4 Interventions of Music Therapy
Music brings the struggle of mental health to another level…and we’re not just talking about the volume. There are different aspect of listening to music to consider in consciously using it to manage your symptoms. Let’s break it down into the four major interventions of music therapy. 5, 6, 7, 8…
Lyric Analysis We’ve all heard that song. You know the one that perfectly expresses the feeling you’ve never really be able to put into words…let a lone music. It’s kinda of amazing when you hear it. Some songs seem to reach into the depths of your heart or soul and pull from your feelings, right? Lyric Analysis is about that moment. It’s about listening to the words of a song and breaking down how you relate to them. Figuring out how you have come to understand the artists express can provide insight and understanding into your own experience.
This process can provide a a less-threatening approach to process emotions by offering insight about a songs theme or lyrics. It can help you learn how to manage your emotions differently with new coping strategies. It’s pretty incredible to hear that someone else (and if you think about how popular the song is than you know many people…) have experienced something similar. It provides a sense of normalcy. Sharing the song creates common understanding of the emotions set to music.
So spend some time thinking about WHY you like a song. Is it the lyrics? What about them? Share your thoughts with a friend or loved one. Or journal your thoughts. You maybe surprised what you learn about your love for a song.
Improvisational Music Playing Through established nonverbal communication, improvisational music playing helps to develop creativity, express freedom, and playfulness. With or without music instruments, you make noises noting the escalation and deescalation in the improvisation correlating to feelings. Emotion is expressed through sound, rhythm, interval or even facial expression. Reviewing the music you’ve recreated with a training professional, they utilize reflecting, rhythmic grounding, dialoguing, and accompanying to provide support through your sounds.
Active Music Listening Get your tangerines out! It’s time to play some music…even if you don’t know how. This doesn’t require you to be a musician or even to have rhythm. Whether you choose to hum along, strike a triangle or cow bell or even remix a track you know, this is about your involvement. In this method, you are utilizing music to match or alter mood. It helps to express what you’re feeling and get it out.
-Songwriting- creating lyrics reflecting your own thoughts and experiences, and orchestrating instruments and sounds to best reflect the emotion behind the lyrics.
It’s undeniable- music can validate the feelings you’re having and help change your perspective when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. If you’re interested in finding out more music therapy, check out the American Music Therapy Association.
If you think you need help with this process, consult a music therapist! Just imagine the amazing songs they can’t introduce you and your emotions to!!!
5 Songs to Help Calm Anxiety
Personally, I don’t think I could get through a day without it. I actually fear for that day. The following are some tracks I’ve used to soothe my stress and anxiety:
“Panic Attacks” by Elohim
“Under Pressure” by Queen ft. David Bowie
“Numb” by Linkin Park
“Anxiety Attack” by Jeffrey Lewis
“Modern Chemistry” by Motion City Soundtrack
What songs do you listen to when you need support? Are the certain songs you find help better with stress versus anxiety? What are you listening to right now? Comment below and I’ll post a master listen in the self-help section for reference!
About Laura Geftman, LCSW
Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.