The Power of Music to Relieve Stress

(Trent with clouds, top of Wasatch)

I've been dealing with my own stress issues lately in the midst of my preparation for the American Board of Anesthesiology oral board exam (the final step to getting board certified!). Just last night, I was up for at least an hour at 3 am replaying mock oral exam scenarios in my head, the adverse events that had been thrown at me intertwining with visions of my planned cases for the next work day... along with thinking about the pros and cons of moving to a different house (which is not an item on our upcoming agenda)...?? How the brain works is sometimes a mystery, isn't it?

So during my groggy, coffee-soaked morning prep for work, my ears perked up at this segment on NPR. The featured music group, Cloud Cult, is coming out with a new album. Their music reminded me of something you would hear wafting through the racks while shopping for another pair of brightly colored skinnies at Anthropologie, but the words struck me as rich, inspiring and positive. Two of the band members are married, and a great deal of their inspiration for song writing comes from a very horrible (and obviously stressful) experience. Their two year-old son mysteriously died in his sleep 10 years ago. A lyric example:

What comes will come
What goes will go. 
The wind will blow where the wind is blowing.

Let go of where you think you're going.
We'll never know why it flows where it's flowing.

- from You'll Be Bright

If these people can harness the feelings surrounding such a tragedy to create powerful music, what creative fruits could we bear when dipping into our black bags to manage our (much less horrible) work and life stress? Not everyone is adept at making music, but the act of listening to music can relieve stress and generate a creative flow in other areas.

When I got home from work today, instead of immediately diving into the study books or fretting about what to make for dinner, I popped in the headphones and headed out for a walk. And it felt great! What about you? Do you use music to relieve stress, inspire, remember gratitude? Do you play or just listen? I'd love to hear about it!


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