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Music as a Coping Skill

If you're a music lover like me, you know listening to the perfect song can be therapeutic and change your mood almost instantly. Science shows that this is because music has many beneficial effects on our brains, including releasing chemicals that make us feel good. If music is something that is meaningful for you and helps you to manage your emotions, below are some ideas for how you can intentionally use music as a way to cope in both hard and happy times.

Make Playlists

Something I have done for years is create playlists each week based on how I anticipate the week is going to be. For example, if I know I am going to have a stressful week, I create a fun and relaxing playlist I can turn on in my car or as I'm getting ready to start my day. Creating an uplifting playlist and having it with you where you can turn it on and listen throughout the day can be a quick and easy form of self-care. It can also be helpful to have various playlists saved for different emotions you may cope with here and there (an uplifting playlist for when you are feeling sad, an empowering playlist for when you are feeling stressed or doubting yourself, etc.)

Mindful Listening

Dr. Dan Siegel, describes mindful awareness as “a form of awareness in which we are alert and open to present experience without being swept up by judgments and prior expectations” (Siegel, 2012). You can turn listening to music into a mindful activity as well. For example, turn on one of your favorite songs (it can be helpful to listed with headphones so you can hear the nuances of the music) and focus only on one element of the the song from beginning to end. Intentionally focus your attention on the different instruments individually, the bass line, melody, the beat, etc. By focusing on one element of the song individually it can help bring you to the present moment and help you feel centered.

Use Lyrics as Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are positive words or statements that you can use to inspire you and encourage positive thinking throughout the day. For example, some people like to hang these positive affirmations around their home or set them on their desk to remind them of their strength and motivate them throughout the day. You can do the same with song lyrics that speak to you. You can use them to offer you strength when you are having a hard day, or to just remind you to keep going on a good day - however is most helpful for you to use them!


Siegel, D. J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: The integrative handbook of the mind. New York, NY: Norton.


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