How songwriting helps with overwhelm

One of the lessons my teachers taught me in school was the KISS method – the Keep It Simple, Superstar idea that: when writing an essay, you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too much information. You want to stick to your talking points, dive deep into them, make your statements, prove your statements, and leave it at that.

In fact, when I was first introduced to essay writing, that point was imperative. You introduce a topic, outline what points you’re going to make about said topic, go into detail about each point, then summarize by reminding the reader what points you made.

This approach is all well and good when it comes to discussing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Mount Vesuvius, the food pyramid, or the importance of exercise, however when it comes to our thoughts and emotions: it’s not always so simple.

That’s where songwriting comes in.

Obviously creativity knows no bounds – nor should it – but when it comes to the most basic [and easy] approaches to songwriting, the format is pretty similar to essay writing. ESPECIALLY when it comes to the KISS method.

Think of it this way: the verses act like the three point system when it comes to essay writing. Verse one: point one. Verse two: point two. Verse three: point three. The pre-chorus acts as a stand in introduction: ie. What I’m really trying to say is this… and the chorus is the evaluation – repeated over and over again throughout the song with the bridge REALLY hammering home the evaluation at the end of the song.

Okay, so why is this so helpful when it comes to feeling overwhelmed?

Because often when a teenager is feeling overwhelmed, their thoughts start swirling around their heads. They feel weighed down by what feels like a million thoughts flying through their heads at a million miles per hour. By breaking down these thoughts into three specific and succinct points: they [your child] are able to analyze each idea or concept closely. Even better: they’re forced to break these concepts down into short, punchy lines – you know, in order to flow better.

So now that they can see – on paper – how what felt like the most stressful thought process ever is actually only three specific pain points, they can now start addressing how to approach them.

And that’s where the chorus comes in. The chorus can either be their declaration of frustration, OR it can serve as their “what I’m really trying to say mum/dad/teacher/friend is this”. Either way, they’re able to start approaching their overwhelm with more autonomy. More self control. They’ve simplified their thoughts into three points and are now able to summarize these thoughts into something short, punchy, and to the point.

In other words: they’ve Kept It Simple, Superstar, and taken control of how they want to respond to their overwhelm.

The bridge, if they choose to have one, serves as the final summary – the “punch to the feelings” as I like to call it. Or, in less dramatic terms, the key lines to their personal anthem.

I mean, let’s face it: remember the songs you used to listen to when you were growing up? The ones you felt you could relate to, or the ones that made you feel better/more validated/understood/seen/heard… chances are: those songs resonated with you because they helped you to simplify your frustrations and feelings.

By writing the songs themselves, your teenager can not only feel that same elimination of overwhelm, but they can be rest assured that whoever hears the song will be able to directly validate, understand and hear them.

It’s their pen.

Their truth.

Their theme song.

Their process of simplifying their overwhelm into something that not only they can start to break down and understand, but also be understood as a result of.

And once the overwhelm has been broken down – that’s when the shifts begin to happen… and healing can begin.

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