Music Therapy 101:: Coping with Anxiety Through Songs

Music Therapy 101:: Coping with Anxiety Through SongsAnyone who knows me knows that I have a deep love for music. For as long as I can remember, it’s been a way in which I can express myself. I’ve never been musically or vocally skilled, but I’ve always had rhythm and can shake my body to a beat. That has to count for something.

Music has the capability to dictate and represent my mood so well; it’s like medicine to my soul. A version of therapy that has always been welcomed by my mental illness. No matter what I’m going through in life, music has always been there for me.

It sways up and down with my real and sometimes intense emotions from my anxiety, inadvertently helping me cope. And I’ll always be appreciative for that.

The Piss Me Off Song

The other night I was sitting on my patio listening to music, enjoying the chill of the spring air, and reflecting on the day when a song by Miranda Lambert came through on my Bluetooth speaker. It revealed a fun and upbeat tempo. I even shrugged my shoulders and smiled, representing the fact that I was enjoying myself. But somewhere in between my White Claw and the words of the song I became pissed off. 

“My mama came from a softer generation
Where you get a grip and bite your lip just to save a little face
Go and fix your make up girl it’s,  just a break up run an’
hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady ’cause I
raised you better, gotta keep it together even when you fall apart,
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart.”

It got be thinking about people like me who struggle with mental health and the pressure we feel to just “keep it together,” “hide our crazy” or “act like a lady” when times are tough. When what we need is for someone to listen and offer compassion.

I understand that mental health was not the intent of this song. But the truth is, we all get offended over things that were not intended to be directed at us. This song reminded me of the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. How misleading and shameful the dialogue is for those of us who may need a little outside help to get through our struggles.

It’s unhealthy to expect people to move on from situations that cause hurt and pain. It strips us from reality, from addressing the pain and from the fact that life can be really sucky sometimes. 

The Feel Good Song

Music Therapy 101:: Coping with Anxiety Through Songs

After my bitterness wore off, a few nights after that I found myself dancing around the living room with my kids. A weekly tradition in our house. We were shuffling through music videos on YouTube when another song stopped me in my tracks. But this time for a different reason. 

“Don’t lose who are you, in the blur of the stars
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing
It’s okay not to be okay
Sometimes it’s hard, to follow your heart
Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising
Just be true to who you are”

No societal pressures or standards. Just a song that represents owning up to the mess and beauty of life. An entire song dedicated to people everywhere who have ever struggled to be understood.

Amen.

Just be true to who you are-a phrase that sounds so easy, but can be so difficult to execute by those of us that struggle with an internal monster.

A song to let us know that it’s ok to not always be ok. 

I felt seen and reassured. Thank you Jessie J for being a queen.

The Life Lesson Song

More recently, I was driving down the freeway, when a song made my heart and ears open; tears streamed down my face. The sky was a bright blue, and the sun was shinning through the windshield. There was an ease to my posture and a lightness to the way I peered out of the window. I felt free.

“I took my love, and I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
’til the landslide brought me down
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I’m gettin’ older, too.”

I was reflecting on the “landslide” as my anxiety. At that particular moment, I was having a difficult time handling the seasons of my life. It takes me longer than most people to handle the change. So yes, I’ve been afraid of changing. But I drove on with boldness because I was finally getting the help that I deserved to manage and cope with my anxiety effectively. 

This song made me feel like I wasn’t alone. That even Stevie Nicks when she wrote this song forty-five years ago was going through her own life struggles and was brave enough to write about it. 

While therapy is helping, music helps me cope too.


For more on how to care for your mental health during Pandemic, check out this resource from our friends at Next Level Urgent Care. 


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