Relaxing with Rob

Use Music to Relax

January 12, 2020 Rob Sepich Season 1 Episode 30
Relaxing with Rob
Use Music to Relax
Show Notes Transcript

Although music can help you relax, it can do so much more. Experiment to find what works best, but here's a sample of what I like:

"Symphony No. 9 in D Minor," Beethoven
"Thunder Road," Bruce Springsteen
"Still Young," The Cat Empire
"Three Little Words," Branford Marsalis
"Free It Up," Destra (feat. Sean Paul)
"Waiting on the Stage," Machel Montano (feat. Badjohn Republic)
"Like a Surgeon," Weird Al Yankovic
"Keeping Your Head Up," Birdy 
"Glow," Nelly Furtado [opening words before the song]
"Emergence," R. Carlos Nakai
"Thunderstruck," AC/DC 
"Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581," Mozart
"Party All The Time," The Black Eyed Peas


[ music ] . Hi, this is Rob Sepich, and welcome to Relaxing with Rob. If you haven't considered using music for relaxation, then I have some ideas for you. And if you already do but you haven't tried music for other purposes, then I have some thoughts about that as well. I love music. Although I have absolutely no talent in creating it, I make up for it in my appreciation for it--especially live performances. My wife and I still get goosebumps when we talk about seeing Beethoven's 9th performed by the St. Louis Symphony with Leonard Slatkin, conducting. Or being at a Springsteen show in Milwaukee. Or a Cat Empire show in Quebec. Or this past summer, getting to see the Branford Marsalis Quartet in Steamboat Springs. Clearly my taste is eclectic. I read a study of hospitalized patients with severe low back pain who were able to slow their respiration and heart rate just from listening to music. In other words, it relaxed them. Large reviews of medical trials of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation had patients with significantly less anxiety, just from listening to music. So if you're a music therapist, this doesn't surprise you. But for the rest of us, music can really help, and not just with stress relief. Just as some works of fiction seem to convey our feelings even more accurately than nonfiction, I think some music expresses my feelings better than words. And what I've come to realize is music can also change my feelings in the way I'd like, more quickly than just about anything else. For example, about a year ago, I was preparing to have surgery, knowing that I'd have at least a month of slow rehab afterwards. And I created a playlist called "Recovery Now!" (with an exclamation mark) as an homage to the Netflix faux documentary series called "Documentary Now!" And I packed it with energizing songs like Destra Garcia's "Free It Up." Funny songs like Weird Al Yankovic's "Like a Surgeon." And just basically songs that created feelings of optimism, like Birdy's "Keeping Your Head Up." I listened to it a lot during that month, including on my slow walks around the block that initially exhausted me. I'd have to stop just to catch my breath. But eventually I made my way back to Zumba classes, and I picked up not quite where I left off, but pretty close. I think partly because my mirror neurons were keeping me in a much more prepared state than had I restarted from scratch. On the day of that surgery, I had been in pre-op for four hours. It was supposed to be only two, but the surgeon's prior operation was running long. And so I had plenty of time to worry. But I kept myself calm in other ways, and I used these words from just before the Nelly Furtado song "Glow." When three people came to wheel me into the operating room. And instead of kind of squirming or saying put me under fast , I just smiled at them and very confidently said in her words, "All right, I'm ready." And those were probably not statements they were accustomed to hearing in that setting. But it kept me calm in a situation over which I really had little control. During workshops, when I would teach relaxation exercises, I would often play Native American flute music, especially from R. Carlos Nakai, because most students would find that extremely relaxing. Some have told me that they would always play the same song just before tests to kind of build up their confidence and focus. So if you haven't tried this, consider it. Among other things, it can help distract you from your worries. In class we would talk about what the most relaxing music is out there. Do you care to take a guess? Well, research shows that it depends! A student mentioned in our class that AC/DC relaxes her, so I kind of surprised her by having "Thunderstruck" all c ued up the following week just as she entered the classroom. If there's a piece of music that's especially calming for you, try listening to it intentionally just before something that's often triggering for you. And for me that piece of music is usually the third movement from Mozart's "Clarinet Quintet in A Major." It feels almost hypnotic, but also grounding for me. I'll place a list of some of these songs I'm mentioning and I use for different purposes in the show notes, if you'd like to give any of them a proper listen . But I know this is idiosyncratic. So what I really encourage you to do is to experiment and keep an open mind. And when you randomly notice some effect that a song has on you in some situation, consider intentionally using it in the future in a different circumstance. And what this can do is serve as a further way to decondition your mind from anxious thoughts that might be connected with certain events. So for example, if you feel intimidated doing public speaking, but you can imagine a lyric from the Black Eyed Peas song "Party All The Time" that goes, "The joint don't pop 'til I walk in the room," you might feel a little more confident next time. Thank you for listening, and we'll talk again soon. [ music ] .