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Music is one of my favorite tools for dealing with anxiety. It is scientifically proven to have an impact on our moods because listening to it causes the brain to release dopamine, which increases happiness and decreases stress. Music therapy is used worldwide to help patients dealing with pain, anxiety, and depression. It can transport us to another time and place, fire us up to do something daring, or show us how to be calm in the storm.
MY CHILDHOOD SOUNDTRACK
My childhood soundtrack was 98.7 WMZQ – 90’s country. I lived in a suburb of DC, but my soundtrack told me I was a country girl bound to marry a high school sweetheart. As a teenager, my soundtrack changed as I rebelled from country girl to Gwen Stefani to rap artist.
MY ADULT SOUNDTRACK
In college, friends introduced me to punk rock and the underground music scene. They helped me explore my creativity and desire to be unique. It didn’t, however, produce much maturity on my end…Not exactly underground, I listened to The White Stripes and fell in love with the simplicity of a two man band. They led me to their inspirations: the rock and roll of Led Zeppelin and the blues of Son House.
I married young at 21 and my music became more of a tapestry of genres rather than one specific type. I had discovered Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers and was listening to their movie soundtracks. They introduced me to old bands like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Ramones, and Bob Dylan.
MY FAITH SOUNDTRACK
After having kids, I had to monitor what came through the speakers for these new tiny ears to hear. I began to really listen to the words of these songs. It’s amazing how different the world looks once you have children.
When I got sick with Lyme disease and my mental state deteriorated, I began to cling to another genre of music, also from my childhood: Contemporary Christian. I spent a year of my life listening to Lauren Daigle, Amanda Cook, NEEDTOBREATHE and Hillsong UNITED during the quiet hours of the night. God was letting me go through this–and for what?! I had no desire to open up my Bible. But these songs spoke to me in the dead of the night. While my family was sleeping, I would listen to these songs on repeat. I would fall asleep to them, and wake up to them.
I bought a Bluetooth speaker and belted them out in the shower. Sunday mornings, tremors and all, I would get ready to go to church where there was a possibility I could hear a live version of “So Will I” or “Reckless Love“. These songs poured life into my spirit like no other songs could at the time. They taught me it’s ok to be confused and angry, but it’s hope that holds us together after we fall apart.
MY LIFE’S SOUNDTRACK
The day I was back on my feet and allowed to drive my car completely alone, I plugged in my iPhone and pushed play on the only song I felt fit my mood. I spent a year of my life watched and taken care of by someone else, living in fear of death and mental instability. I cranked up the volume as Aerosmith sang “I’m BACK! I’m Back in the Saddle Again!”, my husband laughing at me as I drove off, a huge grin on my face.
My soundtrack today is a mix of every song I’ve ever loved, from Jack White and Imagine Dragons and The Lumineers and all of those amazing bands I discovered years ago. Sometimes I even go back and laugh at old rap songs. But when I listen to the songs from those lonely nights, I’m not holding onto hope by a thread anymore. I’m standing on the mountain shouting it out that I’m back. No longer paralyzed by what-if’s but instead choosing to live in the moment.
Last weekend, I sorted through my playlists, organizing them by my needs. Songs for anxiety, celebration, productivity, hyper kids… you name it. I’m investing the time in finding what songs bring me joy so that I can be living days that are meaningful and not mindless.
So what is your soundtrack telling you?
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You’ve got this!