Songwriting: A Practical Approach to Stress Management

Navigating stress in today's fast-paced environment often feels like trying to stay afloat in turbulent waters. We often talk about rolling with the punches, but I think of the struggles of day to day life as more like surfing waves. When we're up, and riding the wave nicely: everything feels completely in our control. But when that fall hits, well, it hits hard. 

My personal journey has led me to discover that songwriting is not just an artistic endeavor but a practical tool for managing these waves of stress. It's about transforming the chaos of daily pressures into structured lyrics, offering a unique form of release, and also an effective way to self actualize solutions.

The Science Behind Music and Memory

There's a reason we gravitate towards the music of our youth during stressful times. If you ask any teenager, they'll often tell you that they like music for one of three reasons:

  • It sounds good

  • They love x artist

  • or they REALLY resonate with the lyrics

At some point in our adulting, however, we tend to stop being so invested in new music. Which is one of the reasons why I wasn't surprised to find that research suggests that familiar tunes from our past can significantly lower stress levels, acting as a sonic escape to simpler times. I mean, think about it. What songs did you used to listen when you were a teenager? How does listening to those same songs now make you feel?

When I'm under pressure, revisiting these tracks helps recalibrate my mood. Mixing in some more modern 2000's to 2020's music keeps the playlist fresh and relevant too, but within reason [sorry, mumble rap: you didn't make the cut].

You can check out my most played playlist here.

Nature and Music: A Dual Therapy

The benefits of spending time in nature are well-documented, with studies highlighting its positive impact on mental health. I've found that combining a walk in the woods with my favorite music amplifies this effect, providing a double dose of stress relief. It's a simple yet effective way to start the day on the right note.

In fact, recent research suggests that walking through nature could potentially reduce symptoms of depression in individuals diagnosed with clinical depression. I like to take it one step further, and add music to the mix - whether it's wholetones [which I talk a little bit about in my latest interactive workbook: From Pain to Playlist - Turning Struggles into Songs], or - you guessed it - listening to songs I used to listen to when I was in high-school.
Funnily enough: when I'm not listening to any music on one of my nature walks? I end up writing songs. 

Mindfulness: More Than a Buzzword

Incorporating mindfulness into daily routines has become a popular stress management strategy, and for good reason. For me, it's about creating a moment of stillness amidst the hustle, where I can reset and gain perspective. Integrating this practice with songwriting allows me to channel gratitude and reflection into my music, making the process even more meaningful.

Which Leads Beautifully Into the Physicality of Singing

Singing, often overlooked as a stress management technique, involves so many tactics when it comes to navigating overwhelm.

  • Deep breathing

  • Posture

  • Physical engagement of the body

  • Self validation from using our voices effectively

  • And, of course, singing songs that help us further our stress management and feel inspired and motivated helps a lot.

It's not just about the melody but the act itself, which can have a surprisingly therapeutic effect on our mental health. Allowing yourself the freedom to express emotions through song can be a powerful way to release pent-up stress.

Songwriting as a Stress Reliever

Engaging in songwriting has always been a huge stress release for me. In fact, my latest write-a-song-a-day challenge highlighted for me how deadlines and pressure can actually fuel creativity and personal expression. Even on my most overwhelming days; writing songs became a way to process and articulate my experiences with stress, turning my turbulent emotions into something tangible and often beautiful.

I found myself writing songs like:

  • "I Hope You Never" - dedicated to everyone who has a tendency to want to bring harm, or often go out of their way to put their own needs and wants far before the needs and wants of others. But even though you don't want to associate with them, you still wish them nothing but the best.

    The chorus lyrics are: "But boy – this ain’t your song / These aren’t your rules / You need to play along / In this life you chose to lead / Karma’s not that sweet / When you choose to lie and cheat / But I hope you never hurt"

  • "Harmony" - inspired by the current global wars, the tension of the upcoming elections, and the seemingly increasing inequalities around the world.

    The chorus lyrics are: "Can we refuse the Devil? / Stop breaking each other / We say we're so lonely inside / Forgetting that we are the light / Can we put down this evil? / Stop hating each other / We say we just want to be free / Forgetting we need / Harmony"

  • "Love [We All Want It]" which is another song inspired by the current global wars, and the tension of the upcoming elections.
    The pre-chorus and chorus lyrics are: "Why can't we drop the weapons and open our arms? / Learn from the lessons that have only meant harm / Break the cycle, and give us a chance / Listen to understand / We all want love / We all want love / We all wanna be seen and heard / Feel understood / And we can't do that running from bombs / Where is the love?"

Looking Ahead: Let's Talk About Harmony

My upcoming album "Harmony" reflects this journey, with tracks [like the above songs] that delve into personal and global themes of conflict and resolution. It's a project born from the need to make sense of the world around me and find peace amidst the noise.

Because songwriting helps significantly when it comes to mental health, stress management, and making sense of our turbulent emotions.

Is It Your Turn?

If you're looking for a tangible way to manage stress, consider songwriting. It's not just for "musicians" in the traditional sense; it's a tool anyone can use to articulate and process their experiences.

If you're curious about integrating songwriting into your stress management routine, I'm opening up slots for a few individuals to explore this further. You can find more details and schedule a session by clicking here.

Songwriting has transformed from a mere hobby to an essential part of my stress management toolkit. It's a practical, accessible way to navigate life's pressures, and I encourage you to explore its potential in your own life.

Don't let the world write your song - you have the pen.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

~ Emma G

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