Music, Comfort Zones, and Coping

Throughout my battle with mental illness, music has been a vital part of my life. I’ve never been much of a musician, but putting on headphones, putting on some tunes, and blocking out the rest of the world for a bit is my “happy place”. Whether I’m anxious, depressed, or just had a stressful day I will turn to music to unwind in a calming, I’d even say meditative, way. Even when I’m out and about (which is happening far less these days), whether heading to work or going to the store, music helps shield me from the chaos and calms my agoraphobia.

Sometimes I will listen to a random selection of tunes, sometimes I will get stuck on a handful of songs or an album that I will listen to constantly. For example, Apple Music tells me I’ve listened to Hayley Williams’ “Petals for Armor” 48 times since it was released, and that’s not counting the handful of times I listened to it on vinyl. Maybe that’s insane, but that’s definitely on the tamer side of my musical obsessions. My brain will just latch on to music and instead of feeling overplayed, it becomes a source of familiarity and comfort.

I do like to break out of my comfort zone from time to time, as evidenced by the 640 albums in my music library, but music is the one part of my life where I allow myself to stay in my comfort zone. When you’re dealing with mental illness, especially anxiety, every day is an exercise in breaking out of what feels safe. That’s why it’s important to have a tool, whether that’s music, meditation, or whatever else works for you, that can give you that sense of comfort when you need it most.

What tools do you use on a daily basis to manage anxiety?

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