Songwriter in nature

Using Songwriting to Minimize Stress

Why are you a songwriter? You may be hoping for a career either as a singer-songwriter, or as a member of a band that makes use of your songwriting skills. Or perhaps you’re hoping to entice others to sing your songs and make a name for yourself as a go-to for good songwriting material.

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But there’s another reason why you might be a songwriter, and it’s this: music is a great way to deal with the various stresses in our lives, and its benefits have been scientifically proven.

In a recent article, “Music, mental health, and immunity,” from the National Library of Medicine written by Lavinia Rebecchini, we read that:

…music has been adapted as a form of stress management and studies have confirmed the effect of music on the reduction of stress responses in the cardiovascular and endocrine system. Specifically, music has been shown to modify heart rate, respiration rate, perspiration, and other autonomic systems, supporting reports that many people use music to achieve physical and psychological balance. Lifestyle choices that reduce stress are thought to be highly protective against diseases, and music may be among these.

I can hear some of you having a bit of a laugh and saying, “Songwriting is more likely to cause me stress than anything else!” And while it’s true that creating art in any field is going to involve a bit of creative stress, I don’t believe that those kinds of stresses are bad ones.

In fact, psychologists have long been aware of the benefits that come from certain levels of stress in our lives, particularly stresses that come from the attempt to push ourselves to achieve. In an article for the website, “Good Stress: What Are the Benefits?” science researcher Amanda Macmillan cites Richard Shelton, MD, in saying:

Stress may be just the thing you need to complete tasks at work. “Think about a deadline: It’s staring you in the face, and it’s going to stimulate your behavior to really manage the situation effectively, rapidly, and more productively,” Dr. Shelton explained.

The key, Dr. Shelton said, is viewing stressful situations as a challenge that you can meet rather than an overwhelming, unpassable roadblock.

I think that probably describes most people’s songwriting experiences very well. If you’re using songwriting as a way to feel creative and happy but find yourself feeling stressed by the activity, it may simply require you to reframe how you look at those stresses.

Stress and Writer’s Block

In songwriting, the stresses for which relief doesn’t seem to be likely is probably what we would call writer’s block. And it’s fair to say that the stress that comes with a creative block of any sort can be one that makes us feel tense, frustrated and unproductive.

There are lots of ways to deal with writer’s block, but the normal stress that comes from the writing process is not a stress that needs a solution; that kind of stress part of the songwriting process.

But if you find any level of stress to be a negative part of songwriting, it might be time to put your guitar down and think positively about the benefits of creative stress. Stresses that are created in our mind as we try to come up with the next line of lyric, or the best chord for a given moment in your melody, are stresses that usually do our minds a bit of good.

In that regard, it can be beneficial to start every songwriting session with a moment or two of positive thinking, of reminding yourself that the stress of songwriting typically comes with its own stress-reduction benefits. In the end, you become a better person — and a better songwriter — because of it.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary EwerFollow Gary on Twitter.

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