It may be seasonal, or it may be taking over your life; anxiety is something that so many struggle with. There are a lot of ways you can manage your anxiety, and one thing that can help is listening to music. According to DJ Mag, listening to music can reduce one’s anxiety by 65%. Below are some country/folk songs that are sure to center you.
There is something so calming about this stripped piano and string arrangement. It instantly helps slow your breathing down. “Lay back and let go/You don’t even have to say anything,” Hurd sings on the second verse, relaying the message that you will be okay. The song feels like a perfect, relaxing autumn day.
Kacey Musgraves is the queen of writing about anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. “Slow Burn”, however, is about letting go and letting your senses fill you up. On the chorus, she sings, “I’m gonna do it my way, it’ll be alright/If we burn it down and it takes all night/It’s a slow burn”. There’s something magical about the layers of vocal harmonies that make you sink in.
Ruston Kelly airs on the more acoustic side of country/singer-songwriter music, and his song “1000 Graves” off his debut EP Halloween has minimalistic production that is easy to focus on. It’s a lonely song at first. But it ends on a hopeful note. “Cause I believe that love can save you/When it comes in quiet, it rises slow/Takes the depths out of the darkness/So you don’t have to fall that far alone/So you don’t have to face it on your own”.
The final track on Brett Eldredge’s self-titled record is the reflective “Castaway”. It’s a song where he is fighting with himself. “I tried to fly but I ran out of sky, and I fell straight down into the ocean”. It’s a soul-searching song, and one many can relate to.
“This Love” by Taylor Swift sounds like being by the ocean, listening to the waves crashing, counting your breaths by the number of seconds it takes for another wave. It’s meditative and in general just a very calming song.
There’s something particularly welcoming about this song. It feels like someone offering you a hand when times are tough. “The light is on, what are you waiting on/Come on back to the front porch”, Williams sings on the chorus. Her voice is incredibly soothing on this track.
Nickel Creek’s guitar-and-fiddle leading song “Out of the Woods” is a beautiful, pacifying song that is about hoping your loved one escapes the internal crisis they are facing. “I wish you out of the woods, and into the picture with me”. It’s peaceful and harmonic, the perfect song to listen to in times of stress.
On the fictional ABC drama Nashville, character Scarlett dealt with anxiety, panic attacks, and mental health problems. Her love interest, Gunnar, wrote the song, “It Ain’t Yours To Throw Away” to help Scarlett cope. “What if you’re just a vessel/And God gave you something special/It ain’t yours to throw away”. It’s a very acoustic song, and the lyrics are really thoughtful.
Despite “The Party” airing more on the side of hopeless, there’s something about it that feels hopeful. Andrews sings about feeling lost as a new mom, but it’s a very universal message. The production is what makes the song so tranquilizing; the guitar and kick-drum is dreamy and allows you to let go.
Patty Griffin’s song “Rain” is a pleading song about trying to wait out a metaphorical storm. “I’m holding on underneath this shroud”, she sings on the chorus, pleading with herself and the love interest in the song. It’s evocative lyrically, but also because of Griffin’s vocal performance. So many can relate to this message.
James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” is written and sung like a lullaby, and sometimes that’s the most comforting thing to hear. “So close your eyes/You can close your eyes, it’s all right”. Taylor’s voice is inviting and warm, and the song makes you feel safe and at ease.
The peaceful guitar allows the words to really shine through Tyler Hilton’s “I Don’t Want to Be Scared”. “I don’t want to be scared/Like I was before/I don’t want to be hurt by it anymore”. He sings in a way that’s self-assured, and by his own admission, he knows he can get through.
No song is more serene than Alexi Murdoch’s “Orange Sky”. It’s a song that is straight poetry. “In your love, my salvation lies in your love”. It’s so vivid with imagery, and the vocals are so effortless and soothing.
Little Big Town’s “Bluebird” sounds exactly like the light at the end of a tunnel. It’s hopeful, and it feels like finding quiet within all the chaos and noise. “Nothing’s gonna take my love away/Keep it in your heart for a rainy day/Close your eyes let it find its way to you”, the band sings in harmony. It’s the type of song that instantly puts you into a better headspace.
The gentle song off Brothers Osborne’s last LP is not only soothing with its glittering guitars, but it’s the perfect life reminder. Life is short, and you should “take life by the hand, while you still can”.
All of these songs will help you one way or another with your anxiety. It’s one of the hardest things we have to deal with as humans, but music can help you get through it.
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