Techniques for dealing with stress from pop songs

Dealing with stress

Listening to music has been a favorite among the techniques for dealing with stress, despite -or because of- the fact that George Bernard Shaw once said that music is the brandy of the damned. Most people who do so relax to classical, new age, or world music, Gregorian chants, nature sounds, or to Lou Reed’s Hudson River Wind Meditations (which is the polar opposite of Metal Machine Music, or the rest of Reed’s output for that matter). On the other hand, who hasn’t let a sigh of joy and relief when stumbling upon their favorite song on the radio? The following could become new favorites not only because of their soothing rhythms, but also because of their messages.

  • Technique: Begin living now.
  • Song: Present Tense by Pearl Jam.

Quote: “you can spend your time alone, redigesting past regrets
or you can come to terms and realize
you're the only one who can't forgive yourself
makes much more sense to live in the present tense

You may think of this Seattle institution as a bunch of grungy rockers, which they once were, but though they can still rock out with the best of them, they also have their mellow side. An example of that softer side is the song Present Tense from 1996’s No Code album. This plea to let go of the past can also be construed as a petition to stop worrying about the feature, which is what living in the now means.

  • Technique: Enjoy leisure and play.
  • Song: Soak up the Sun by Sheryl Crow.

Quote: “It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got”

This little ditty is all about enjoying the little things in life, which are mostly free. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting ahead in work and life and keeping up with the Joneses that we literally and figuratively forget to stop and smell the roses.  Even though the narrator of this song doesn’t have “diddly squat” other than a crummy job that doesn’t pay near enough, she’s still the “king of me” who’s going to tell everyone to lighten up.

  • Techniques: Learn to accept what you cannot change.
  • Song: The World I Know by Collective Soul.

Quote: “So I walk up on high and I step to the edge
To see my world below. And I laugh at myself
as the tears roll down, 'cause it's the world that I know”

Some people want to change the world, others just want to watch it burn. In either case it’s because of an inability to accept things as they are. Of course you can make changes in your life for the better, but some things are immutable and come with the territory. This 1995 song reminds us that we can cry but we can also laugh with the world as we know it.

  • Techniques: Think positively, sing, dance, let go of things you have lost.
  • Song: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle.

Quote: “If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing”

Originally written and performed for the 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian, this song has become a singalong at such disparate events as football matches and funerals. This is because even though the lyrics acknowledge death and sadness, they also remind us that there is always a silver lining. Plus its anthemic whistled hook is as contagious as its uplifting message is. And don’t waste pining for something you’ve lost because “you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing.”

Hopefully these music-related techniques for dealing with stress will be useful; I’m sure just listening to these songs will put a smile on your face.

Related Read:

The Healing Power of Music