How To Curate an Anxiety Soothing Playlist

January 17, 2023

By Kelly Schwint

While music can certainly help us through anxiety, it can still be challenging to know what to play when dealing with difficult emotions. With so many songs to choose from, which will help us most during a panic attack? 

An anxiety soothing playlist can help you work through nervousness when worrisome feelings arise. These prompts will help guide you through choosing the music that suits your playlist best:

1. Slow and Soft

What song sends a flow of relaxation through your body? A song with a soft melody can help ground you and clear your mind. Try a breathing exercise while listening to a slow tune, and let yourself feel the music. If it feels right, close your eyes and relax your body. Gentle music can feel protective and reassuring without adding too much noise to your mind. 

EXAMPLE: “Apple Pie” by Lizzy McAlpine & "Ripples" by beabadoobee

2. Remind Yourself of a Happy Memory

Any song connected to a time when you were full of happiness can ease your nerves. Whether that is a song you overplayed on your favorite beach vacation or a track you and your friends love to sing along to, anything that reminds you of a better time can distract from your current anxiety. 

EXAMPLE: “Caught in the Middle” by Paramore

3. Gentle Voice

Focusing on a singer's voice can be a helpful distraction, especially if they have a softer vocal technique. Like a lullaby when you were a baby, hearing softness can bring comfort and security. If the music is too aggressive or upbeat, it might cause overstimulation, but it is essential to do what feels best for you!

EXAMPLE: "Envy" by Ogi & “Amoeba” by Clairo

4. Ground Yourself with Poetic Lyrics

Focusing on lyrics, especially those with poetic influences, allows you to feel more present in the moment and serves as a distraction from your thoughts. A relatable song with a strong message – particularly one that has intricate and specific writing, can help you focus on something outside of your anxiety.

EXAMPLE: “Sleep to Dream” by Fiona Apple

5. Sing Your Heart Out

Singing along to a song not only creates a distraction from nervous feelings, but also serves as a “physical activity,” which can release endorphins. This release will leave you feeling all around better. This can be a song from your childhood that you always loved belting, or a newer release – whatever it is, sing it as loud as your heart desires.

EXAMPLE: “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne & "good 4" u by Olivia Rodrigo

Individualizing your playlist is an act of self-care, as you are preparing coping skills for difficult times in the future. No two playlists are the same, but the important part is that it helps you. Next time feelings of anxiety come up, put your playlist on. Even if you only feel a little better, that is still a win.