Keeping Stress Low-Key

by August 1, 2012
filed under Life

Headache? Chest pain? Feelings of worry, panic or dread? Whatever negative effects stress has on you, the worst thing you can do is let them pile up. Stress can build to overwhelming amounts if you don’t take the time to break it down to manageable levels.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of us like music. And music is a great tool for helping deflate some of the stress you’re feeling. Here are five ways music can help you tame the savage beast, Stress:

1. Break it Down
If you’re working on an intense project and getting nowhere, you usually start to get frustrated or panic about finishing. And you get nothing done when you’re in a frenzy. Taking a break and listening to your favourite songs or looking up some new tunes will help refresh your mind and creativity so that you can think more clearly. A particular song might even be the key to a burst of inspiration that helps you complete your work.

2. Work and Play
Instead of taking a break, you can play music while you toil away. This method doesn’t work for me personally — unless the music has no words — but being surrounded by music might just relax you enough to remain productive.

3. Calm yourself with Class
Classical music has a different feel than other genres, and its lack of words means your mind doesn’t have any words to focus in on or get stuck in your head. For me, classical music is less distracting, and I’ll often play it in the background while I work or when I need to calm down after a particularly stressful day.

4. Belt it Out
Maybe you need a little more energetic way to blow off some steam. Singing works for a variety of situations, whether it’s after a stressful day or you’ve just dealt with a tense situation. When I sing loudly in the car on the way home from work, it helps dissolve some of the strain from a long day. I also enjoy yelling out the lyrics and whipping my hair around at red lights. And at home, I’ll take a break from a strenuous assignment just to blast one or two of my favourite songs and sing along. Singing aloud while whittling away at a task can lift your mood enough to decrease your stress.

5. Bust a Move
If you’re more of a groover than a singer, then shedding your stress to a beat might be your style. Dancing is also great exercise if you decide to take a class. But you can also simply take the time to shake some booty and lip sync in front of a mirror, casting off some tension in the process. Go crazy and bust a move to some beats for a good hour, and you’ll feel a whole lot looser. Or you might feel super pumped and ready to hit the books again.

6. Channel Stress into a New Skill
A musical instrument takes time and effort, but it’s worth it not only as a means of stress release but also as a tool for personal growth. When you’re feeling too worked up, stop what you’re doing and go play your musical instrument for an hour. Devoting your attention to reading notes and playing music distracts your mind from its original stress. Instead of hitting a punching bag, I just sit down at my piano and play until my bad mood fades away. And even when I’m not stressed, my piano is still there for me to tackle a new song or simply play my favourites.

So when you’re feeling like an anvil is sitting on your head, bring out your IPod, CDs, cassette tapes, records, musical instruments or however else you have your music and beat down that stress!

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