I’m not sure when the idea came to me to do it, but a couple of years ago when I was trying to make it through the end of my 3rd year at university and be a functional, civilised and kind member of society, I pretty much used music as the cheapest and most effective and most accessible form of therapy I could find. Sometimes self care means cannibalising the things that make you happy and really using them as tools to apply words of affirmation into your life, separate fact from fiction and also just flat out reminding yourself it’s okay to have fun. We love music because of the memories they can hold, the healing they can bring and the joy that can be found. Music has a way of speaking for us when we have run out of words to say ourselves. And it’s also scientifically proven to help with anxiety. Since last month was mental health awareness month, I thought I’d ride on the end of that as we move into this spring to summer vibe and share some of the music that really helps and has helped me. An Anxiety playlist:
- 1 Elton John – Tiny Dancer
There’s going to be two reactions to this. “Huh” and “WHY”. There’s a story. You see I watched a film called ‘Almost Famous’ with my siblings when I was probably too young to watch it, and though it’s a great story, the sound track made the biggest impact me. Every single song, in every moment solicited a different emotion from me, and sometimes I couldn’t quite articulate what it meant, I just knew I felt connected. Tiny Dancer without fail takes me to eyes closed, sun shining, warm knees and the smell of grass. There’s a freedom to it.
- Deitrick Haddon – Sinner’s Prayer
A big foundation for who I am lies in my faith and so worship music and always a big help when I ground myself in something bigger than myself and find strength in someone other than myself. Though the song might have a negative connotation it’s actually entirely about perspective. It talks about all the positives that come out of the most negative aspects of life. Also there’s something really beautiful about finding renewal through the spirit.
- John Mayer – Heart Of Life
Yes, yes, yes we all know that John can be incredibly problematic, but his music holds a lot of weight in my life and always seems to pop up at the most transitional points in my life. I’ve seen him live twice and both times has been incredibly moving. This particular song I heard when I was 16, again when I was with my siblings and we were just about to go and watch a film. My second eldest sister forced me to put the earphones in my ears and I was instantly consumed in this feeling of absolute understanding. I went out all over and my mouth was dry and I thought I would cry, but instead I laughed and felt so content and so blessed.
- Nina Simone – Four Women
This is one of the most powerful and empowering and truthful songs Nina has in her cannon and the moment I heard I felt as if every single black woman within my ancestry was holding me up and telling me it was okay to push forward because no matter what part of me I am struggling with or whatever I have been through, I am, there is power in me.
- Frank Ocean – Novacane
Frank Ocean is for a very specific audience and he might not be everyone’s taste but he’s certainly mine. There’s something about Frank that speaks to the other in all of us. The bits that we feel don’t fit. The misfit. But it just goes to show that if we all feel those things we can be unified in the fact that we are all the same. We all feel. And cry. And laugh and smile. We all are complex and a multitude of things. We are multi dimensional and Frank’s voice brings that.
Honestly, I hope sharing encourages you to make your own anxiety playlist for the times when you need it most; and if you do, and you wouldn’t mind sharing, let us know what’s on yours!