Whether you’re listening to it or creating it, music can reduce stress and anxiety, distract you from negative feelings and emotions, and even relieve symptoms of health or mental health conditions. Music has been used to reduce physical and emotional pain and increase the quality of life in medical and psychiatric hospitals, drug and alcohol programs, assisted living facilities, and cancer centers. These same music practices can be worked into your daily life, especially with the guidance of a counselor, coach, or licensed music therapist who can assess your needs and use specialized and research-based techniques to help guide you towards reaching your therapeutic goals.

These tips are intended to be fun ways to reduce stress and increase wellness. If you are worried about your stress level, anxiety, or depression, you should seek out a mental health professional.

Music is a great way to express what’s going on inside. You can make music whether you play an instrument, hum, or tap a box – or you can take existing songs and make a mix that conveys how you feel. Another great musical technique for self-expression is writing lyrics that send your thoughts or emotions. You can either write to a melody you already know or create something all new. You don’t need to be a trained musician or composer to get the healing benefits of creating music. It’s not about what you are creating, but the process of creating it. So go ahead, tap your foot, shake a box of oatmeal, and express yourself.

A song can instantly bring you back in time to moments from your past. That song you knew every word to as a child, and still, do. The tune you heard while on a first date. A song you danced to on a special night. Compile a mental playlist of songs with positive associations that you can reference any time you need a quick pick-me-up.

Music can be used to help you calm and meditate. Some people who have trouble with silent meditation find that music helps silence inner dialogue allowing for a more powerful experience. Music therapists can provide more personalized music-assisted relaxation tips, such as progressive muscle relaxation; however, here is a basic exercise you can try. Sit comfortably in a quiet place with your body relaxed. While listening to calming sounds or music, take deep breaths to the rhythm, and let the sound melt away the chatter. You can imagine your body relaxing one muscle at a time as the music fills you.