We often pay very close attention to the foods we eat but what about our sonic diet? You can go through your day making healthy food choices but have little awareness of the sounds around you. Take your health-conscious lifestyle one step further by accessing music when you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious.
Sound and music have the ability to quickly alter our mood, affecting our subconscious mind. Listening to music is a relatively inexpensive, easily accessible solution to elevate our awareness and shift our emotional states.
Here are seven ways you can use music in your daily routine to help manage stress and create more joy in your life.
1. Wake up with music.
Do you wake up to the buzzing of a harsh alarm?
Consider being a little kinder to yourself. Waking up to a familiar piece of music can ease you into the day. This is easy to program if you have a smartphone that allows you to assign a song as your alarm.
Once you are up and moving, turn on some beautiful and inspiring music. Create a playlist of music that relaxes and inspires you or gets you going. A positive morning music ritual is a great way to start your day off in a better mood.
2. Daily medicine? Sing.
Take the positive effects of listening to music to another level, try singing. Singing is one of the best ways to shift the vibrations of our thoughts at a cellular level, helping slow and regulate breathing and promote relaxation. Sing in the shower, sing in the car, hum before you go to sleep. You can sing "a cappella," or to a recording—it doesn't matter.
Don't worry if you think you don't have a "good" voice. This is not about performing or putting yourself in another stressful situation. Just enjoy. Sing along with songs you know will put you in a better mood, inspire you, or help you relax. Pay attention to how different you feel after a few minutes of singing aloud, and make note of the songs that make you feel best so you can put them on repeat when you need them.
3. Sound movement
Make music a part of your daily exercise routine. A morning walk or run, yoga, or stretching can become easier and more enjoyable if you add music. Again, choose music that works for the movement you've chosen. This may take a little trial and error to sort out at first, so be sure to take note of the musical selections that help you feel inspired and get you feeling energized.
4. Traffic jams
Your daily commute might be one of the biggest causes of stress in your day. Unfortunately, getting frustrated or worrying about it doesn't get you there faster. Commuting is one of those situations where it is difficult to change the external circumstances, but we can resort to shifting our own internal state to avoid and relieve stress. You can always use the commute time to work on those morning and workout playlists.
Or better yet, sing aloud in the car to your favorite stress-busting mix. If you're in the city, put on your headphones and pump up the jam.
5. Whistle while you work.
Perhaps not literally. But work environments are often quite stressful. The right background music can help everyone work through routine tasks in a better mood, and listening to inspiring music on breaks can help us recharge our own systems. Relaxing background music can also help mask potentially annoying distractions in noisier work environments.
6. Unplug—silence is golden.
Take a few minutes out from the computer, the phone, and internal mind chatter, to stop and listen to your surroundings. What do you hear? A dog barking outside, the white noise of passing traffic, distant laughter. Noticing your natural sonic environment can serve as a great tune-up to de-stress and recharge.
7. Active listening—tuning in to the music.
There is more than one way to listen to music. We can let it play in the background while we give our attention to something or someone else, or we can become actively involved in the listening process. Active listening engages more areas of the human brain and resonates more deeply in the cells of our bodies. This makes it a more powerful process for transforming our thoughts and emotions.
Start by eliminating any distractions and choosing a slower piece of music. Then close your eyes, slow down your breathing, and tune into something you can follow along in the music—like the melody or a particular instrument.