Tune In or Drown Out

Less the Stress: Day 6 – Listen to Music

New to the series? Read the first post here. I’d say the basic concept of listening to music as stress relief is that many people believe you’re supposed to listen to classical, calm, therapeutic tunes. I know that works for some people, especially for studying, but that will never be me. The closest I came to classical study music was the soundtrack to Into the Wild by Eddie Vedder. Most of it was instrumental and animal sounds or intonations. I love jamming out to music on my commute, but these days I listen to various comedy and topical podcasts more than anything.

A few years ago I discovered stand up on Pandora. I was in a period of my life where listening to music was not something I was able to do. It felt too vulnerable. Discovering stand up not only entertained me but gave me a nice background noise replacement where I could just listen to someone talk, especially once I got to know most of the bits. As someone who has worked almost exclusively in quiet offices, you basically have to have ear buds in most of the day to entertain yourself. Once I started my job commuting to Vermont I went full-force on podcasts. I’d started listening to a few on road trips but figured I’d need more than music and musical albums entertaining me while driving 2 hours a day. photo 5 OK, so lets get back to the point here. Music is a great stress reliever. If you’re me, that means belting along to impassioned songs from musicals. Or just a pop song I can’t get out of my head. These days, it’s something I kind of forget about. It’s weird to think about, but in a way I’ve gotten addicted to having a stream of voices in my head (Erm? I’m not crazy. Sure.) I like listening to other people discuss their lives, talk about history, share goofy stories, etc. But sometimes I don’t realize right away that it’s wearing me out. I don’t know if this can be classified as introvert behavior but listening to people talk a lot, even digitally, seems to exhaust my brain or make me anxious if I do it too much. It’s gotten to the point where I have to force myself to switch to music, but the results are always satisfying. I’m better about it now. When I’m scrolling my available podcasts and nothing is striking me, it’s time for a playlist. It’s easy to get caught up in background noise without realizing you’re hurting yourself. Similar to my meditation post, being able to be still and enjoy the quiet is important. Music to me is so powerful and helps me tap into my creative side. I love musicals in a similar-but-different way I love books: it transports you to another world. Except with musicals and music, you’re tapping in the emotion of the voice as much as the words, or even moreso. I can’t NOT tear up belting out Finale to In The Heights while remembering the way Lin looked delivering it live (Do yourself a favor and watch the link). photo 4 This past weekend I saw “Hands on a Hardbody” from the Park Playhouse production in Albany. I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was – I’m even considering downloading some of the songs. Now that I don’t live in NYC anymore my new musical obsessions have decreased greatly. I miss it.

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