By Lisa Summer, PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Every new academic year brings opportunity and adventure, and with it, anxiety. For some, this stress can accumulate and drain the body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes overlooked, the most effective fuel you have to relax yourself is already in your mobile phone: it’s your music. 

Just three minutes of focused music listening will: 

  • Slow down your thoughts, liberating your mind from anxiety 
  • Discharge tension and emotions such as self-doubt, worry, agitation
  • Lighten your mood and bring feelings of enjoyment and vitality 

Here are three simple steps for selecting music to refuel and reset:

  1. Make a playlist with three songs that will go directly to your heart (current favorites or ones from your past): 
  2. One song whose beat helps you let go of your pressures
  3. One song whose positive lyrics always uplift and motivate you 
  4. One song you would use to pump yourself up, to feel more confident 
  • Take a three-minute break in a location where you won’t be disturbed with your cellphone and earbuds. Close your eyes to better notice what anxieties need discharged; especially pressured thoughts, feelings of stress, and tiredness. Then select a song by asking yourself, “Which song do I need right now?” As you listen. . . 
  • Focus yourself entirely on listening to that song – this is key! 
  • Let go and enjoy your music fully; no multitasking while you are listening.
  • If your selection was effective and you have extra time, repeat it again and allow the music to deepen its effect on you. 
  • If it wasn’t effective enough, choose another song from your list.
  • Label your playlist and keep it updated with new songs to recharge yourself whenever you need it.

These tips are not only for students. Parents at home can apply these strategies too. 

Lisa Summer, PhD, a board-certified music therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor, is Professor/Director of the Music Therapy Program at Anna Maria College.