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29 Anxiety-Reducing Songs to Add to Your Summer Playlist

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If you’re familiar with our mental health Facebook page, you know we often ask you for songs that help get you through tough times — whether that be a panic attack, a depressive episode, the comedown from mania or just a difficult day in your life. Since we can’t always include every song you send our way, we’ve found ourselves with a surplus of good tunes and wanted to make sure we got them in front of you.

So, as sort of a bonus to our tips and tricks for dealing with anxiety at music festivals, we compiled some songs you’ve sent us in the past (and a few picks of our own) from bands touring this summer. Jump into our Spotify playlist at the bottom, or (if you can/want to!) try to catch one of these groups in person this summer.

1. “Doing It for the Money” — Foster the People

I am shouting to the world / Let them know that we won’t / Be afraid to step into the fight / When you can’t see the light.”

2017 festivals: Neon Desert Music Festival (5/28), Mad Cool Festival (7/8), WayHome Music & Arts Festival (7/28), Mo Pop Festival (7/29-30), Lollapalooza (8/4), Osheaga Festival (8/4-6), The Meadows Music and Arts Festival (9/15-17), Austin City Limits (10/6-8 & 10/13-15)

2. “Cranes in the Sky” — Solange

“But it’s like cranes in the sky / Sometimes I don’t want to feel those metal clouds.”

2017 festivals: Boston Calling (5/26-28), Primavera Sound (5/31-6/4), FPSF (6/3-4), We Love Green(6/10), Glastonbury (6/21-25), Essence Music Festival (6/30), Montreux Jazz Festival (6/30-7/15), North Sea Jazz Festival (7/8), Pitchfork Music Festival (7/14-16), FYF Fest (7/21-23), WayHome (7/29), Panorama NYC Music Festival (7/28-30), Mo Pop (7/29-30), Osheaga (8/4-6), Outside Lands (8/11-13), Lowlands Festival (8/18), Bumbershoot (9/1-3), Made in America Festival (9/2-3), Austin City Limits (10/6-8 & 10/13-15)

3. “All We Got” — Chance the Rapper (Feat. Kanye West)

“Music is all we got / So we might as well give it all we got.”

2017 festivals: Hangout Festival (5/21), Boston Calling (5/26), Sasquatch! (5/28), Governors Ball Music Festival (6/2), Bonnaroo (6/10), Eaux Claires Festival (6/16), Firefly Music Festival (6/17), Essence (6/28-7/2), Wireless Festival (7/7), Pemberton Music Festival (7/13-16), Karoondinha Music & Arts Festival (7/22), Lollapalooza (8/3-6), Life is Beautiful Festival (9/23)

4. “Survival” — Muse

“And I’ll light the fuse / And I’ll never lose / And I choose to survive / Whatever it takes.”

2017 festivals: Bunbury Festival (6/4), Firefly (6/18), Pemberton  (7/13), RBC Bluesfest (7/15), Festival d’été de Québec (7/16), Lollapalooza (8/3), Osheaga (8/5), Leeds Festival (8/25), Reading Festival (8/27), Life Is Beautiful (9/23)

5. “Yellow Flicker Beat” — Lorde

“I’m a princess cut from marble, smoother than a storm / And the scars that mark my body, they’re silver and gold.”

2017 festivals: Governors Ball (6/2), FPSF (6/3-4), Bonnaroo (6/8-11), Glastonbury (6/21-25), Rock Werchter (6/29), Roskilde Festival (6/30), OpenAir St. Gallen (7/2), Fuji Rock Festival (7/28-30), Lollapalooza (8/3), Osheaga (8/4-6), Outside Lands Music Festival (8/11-13)

6. “Postpone” — Catfish & the Bottlemen

“And you feel like it all starts falling / And you feel like your luck needs changing / Yes I’ll be there when it all falls.”

2017 festivals: Shaky Knees (5/13), BottleRock (5/26), Sasquatch! (5/26-28), Isle of Wight Festival (6/8-11), Ahmad Tea Music Festival (6/24), Community Festival (7/1), Mad Cool Festival (7/6), TRNSMT (7/8), Longitude (7/15), Splendour in the Grass (7/21-23), Fuji Rock (7/28-30)

7. “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” — Michael Franti & Spearhead

“Everybody wants me to be who they want me to be except you / All I wanna do is be with you.”

2017 festivals: Greenroom Festival (5/20), Bottlerock (5/26-28), Mountain Jam Festival (6/18), Saskatchewan Jazz Festival (6/29), Jam Sandwich Festival (7/1), Blissfest (7/8), California WorldFest (7/13-16), Floydfest (7/26-30), WhaleRock Music & Arts Festival (9/16-17)

8. “Don’t Save Me” — HAIM

All my life I wasn’t trying to get on a highway / I was wondering which way to go.”

2017 festivals: Pemberton (7/13-16), Leeds (8/25), Reading (8/27), Bumbershoot (9/1-3), Life is Beautiful (9/22-24)

9. “I Know a Place” — MUNA

“I can recall when I was the one in your seat / I still got the scars and they occasionally bleed / Cause somebody hurt me / Somebody hurt me / But I’m staying alive”

2017 festivals: Governors Ball (6/2), Firefly (6/17), NXNE (6/24), Summerfest (7/1), Go Fest (7/2), Osheaga (8/4), Outside Lands (8/11-13), Leeds (8/25), Reading (8/27), Austin City Limits (8/6-8 & 8/13-15), Lost Lake Festival (8/20-22)

10. “Have Some Love” — Childish Gambino

“Have a word for your brother / Have some time for one another / Really love one another / It’s so hard to find”

 2017 festivals: Governors Ball (6/3)

11. “Pink + White” — Frank Ocean

“You kneel down to the dry land / Kiss the Earth that birthed you / Gave you tools just to stay alive”

 2017 festivals: Hangout Music Festival (5/19-21), Parklife (6/10-11), Lovebox (6/14), FYF Fest (7/21-23), WayHome (7/28-30), Panorama (7/28-30)

12. “All Our Lives” — Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

“I thought, ‘If I could tell her something, I would tell her this: / There’s only two mistakes that I have made / It’s running from the people who could love me best / And trying to fix a world that I can’t change.'”

 2017 festivals: Hangout (5/19), Slam Dunk Festival (5/27), Summerfest (7/8), Panorama (7/30), Lollapalooza (8/4), Austin City Limits (10/6)

13. “Recovery” — Broods

“I will be your home, keep you warm when it’s cold / I will try to be what you need when you’re low”

 2017 festivals: Pemberton (7/13), Bumbershoot (8/1), Life is Beautiful (9/22-23)

14. “Plastic” — Moses Sumney

“I know what it is to be broken and be bold / Tell you that my silver is gold”

2017 Festivals: Boston Calling (5/27), Sasquatch! (5/28), Essence (6/30), Blissfields Festival (7/7), FYF Fest (7/23), End of the Road Festival (9/2)

15. “Migraine” — Twenty One Pilots

“Am I the only one I know / Waging my wars behind my face and above my throat?”

2017 festivals: Hangout, Sasquatch!, Firefly

16. “Dreamers” — K.Flay 

“This one goes out to all the dreamers at sea / This life is only what you want it to be / And I want more, I want more”

2017 festivals: Groovin the Moo Festival (5/13), Firefly (6/15-18), Hurricane Festival (6/23-25), Southside Festival (6/23-25), Forecastle Festival (7/14-16), Sloss Music & Arts Festival (7/15-16), Outside Lands (8/11-13), Riverfest Elora (8/19), Cayuga Sound Music Festival (9/22-23)

17. “Yes I’m Changing” — Tame Impala

“I saw it different, I must admit / I caught a glimpse, I’m going after it / They say people never change but that’s bullshit / They do.”

2017 festivals: Panorama (7/28-30)

18. “Don’t Swallow the Cap” — The National

“I’m not alone, / I’ll never be. / And to the bone, / I’m evergreen.”

2017 festivals: Glastonbury (6/21), Haven Festival (8/12), Pitchfork Paris (11/2)

19. “Wildflowers” — Tom Petty

“You belong among the wildflowers / You belong in a boat out at sea / You belong with your love on your arm / You belong somewhere you feel free”

2017 festivals: BottleRock (5/27), Mountain Jam (6/17), Summerfest (7/5-6), Bluesfest (7/16), KAABOO Festival (9/17),

20. “Weekend’s Long” — Ziggy Marley

“Don’t be afraid for what is to come / It’s been too long since that bell was rung”

2017 festivals: Victoria Int’l JazzFest (6/25-26), SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival (6/28), Summerfest (7/2), Levitate Music Festival (7/9), Boardmasters Festival (8/13)

21. “Hang on to the Night” — Tegan and Sara

“Hang on to your hope / You have so much you gotta get through / Hang on to yourself / No good’ll come from being untrue”

2017 festivals: Boston Calling (5/27), Colossal Clutterfest (6/4), Bonnaroo (6/10), Summerfest (7/6), RBC Bluesfest (7/8), WayHome (7/30), Lollapalooza (8/4), Area 506 Festival (8/5), Osheaga (8/6), Regina Folk Festival (8/12), Fashion Meets Music Festival (8/18), The Meadows Music & Arts Festival (9/15-17)

22. “Our Own House” — MisterWives

“We built our own house, own house / With our hands over our hearts / And we swore on that day / That it will never fall apart”

2017 festivals: Firefly (6/18), Summerfest (6/28), Karoondinha Music & Arts Festival (7/21-23)

23. “Blak and Blu” — Gary Clark Jr.

“I need something to hold on to / While the world is spinning ’round and ’round / It could crumble any moment / I keep my feet on solid ground, for now”

2017 festivals: LaureLive Music Festival (6/10), Chicago Blues Festival (6/11), Monterey International Pop Festival (6/16-18), Mountain Jam (6/17), Ottowa Bluesfest (7/12), Hinterland Music Festival (8/4-5), Afropunk Festival (8/27)

24. “Warmth” — Bastille

“Hold me in this wild, wild world / ‘Cause in your warmth I forget how cold it can be / And in your heat I feel how cold it can get”

2017 festivals: NDR 2 Plaza Festival (5/26), Northside (6/9), Isle of Wight (6/11), Top Fest (6/30), Mares Vivas Festival (7/14), Arenal Sound Festival (8/3), Pentaport Rock Festival (8/11), Pukkelpop Festival (8/18), Lowlands (8/19), Zeltfestival Ruhr (8/20), Czad Festival (8/23), Strand Festival (8/24), Reading (8/25), Leeds (8/26)

25. “Insane” — Judah and the Lion

“But I think that we’re all going insane / Hiding behind some smiling face / I don’t know if you can relate / But I fight the devil most of the days”

2017 festivals: BottleRock (5/27), Governors Ball (6/2), Firefly (6/17), Forecastle (7/15), Sloss Fest (7/16)

26. “Never Be Like You” — Flume (Feat. Kai)

“What I would do to take away / This fear of being loved, allegiance to the pain”

2017 festivals: Governors Ball (6/2), FPSF (6/4), Bonnaroo (6/10), Firefly (6/16), Summerfest (6/28), Electric Forest Festival (6/30), Festival d’été de Québec (7/12), RBC Bluesfest (7/13), WayHome (7/28), Way Out West Festival (8/10), Les Plages Électroniques (8/11), Flow Festival (8/12), Sziget Festival (8/14), FM4 Frequency Festival (8/17), MS Dockville Festival (8/18-20), Lowlands (8/18-20), Pukkelpop (8/19), Le Cabaret Vert (8/24), Rock en Seine (8/25), Reading (8/26), Leeds (8/27), Bumbershoot (9/1-3)

27. “Roll Up Your Sleeves” — Meg Mac

“It’s easier to fake it, oh oh / So I’ll go and I’ll join the free / There’s people there, they’re just like me”

2017 festivals: Firefly (6/16), Splendour in the Grass (7/23)

28. “Can’t Stop” — Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Can’t stop the spirits when they need you / This life is more than just a read through”

2017 festivals: Bonnaroo (6/10), Summerfest (6/28), Festival de Benicàssim (7/13), Paleo Festival (7/18), Milano Summer Festival (7/21), Lollapalooza Paris (7/23), Kaisafest (7/29), KAABOO (9/15), The Meadows Music & Arts Festival (9/17), Rock in Rio (9/24), Austin City Limits (10/6 & 13)

29. “On to the Next One” — Jay Z

“I move forward, the only direction / can’t be scared to fail / search and perfection”

2017 festivals: V Festival (8/19-20), Made in America (9/2-3), The Meadows Music & Arts Festival (9/15-17), Austin City Limits (10/6 & 13)

What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

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Imagine anxiety.

Imagine being in constant fear of the possibility of something bad happening.

Imagine being unable to leave your house by yourself because you’re convinced you’ll have a panic attack and can’t manage it on your own.

Imagine having a panic attack at school or work, unable to do anything but sit and wait for the storm to pass because if you start reacting to it, everyone will think you’re being disruptive.

Imagine feeling like you’re having a heart attack, and you can’t breathe, but you’re trying your absolute best to ignore it for the sake of everyone around you.

Imaging constantly trying to make yourself appealing to others so they’ll like you.

Imagine thinking everyone secretly hates you and then having an uncontrollable need to prove your worth because for some reason, you care what people think.

Now imagine depression.

Imagine lacking the motivation needed to even get out of bed in the morning.

Imagine finding yourself questioning your self-worth as soon as you do get out of bed.

Imagine trying to talk to someone about it but only getting reactions like, “Oh yeah, I get sad sometimes too” or “Be grateful for everything you have! There are thousands of people who have it worse off than you!”

Imagine believing them.

Imagine thinking they’re right, and that you’re just overreacting, and that this horrible feeling you’re experiencing doesn’t matter.

Imagine thinking you don’t matter.

Now imagine experiencing both at the same time.

Imagine not having any motivation to get up in the morning but all the while worrying about being late for that day.

Imagine wanting to make yourself perfect for everyone but then thinking there’s no point and just cancelling any plans you had that day.

Imagine having one half that cares too much and another that doesn’t care enough.

Imagine constantly trying to figure out what to do with yourself.

One voice is screaming at you: “Do something! You have to! Everyone will hate you if you don’t do it!” And another one groaning and complaining: “Don’t bother. It’s not like anyone will notice if you do it or not. You should just leave and go back home. No one expects anything at home.”

Imagine having this war going on in your head.

Never ending.

Always at the back of your mind.

Two sides fighting for control over you.

But neither of them will ever win or lose.

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Imagine you’re walking through the forest at night. You’re lost and cold. Imagine the fear that would be running through your brain. What thoughts do you think you’d have? Probably something similar to this. “What if nobody finds me? What if I’m lost forever? What is lurking in the darkness? What made that twig snap? Oh, that was me. OK, onward. Wait, what was that?” At that moment, you see a brown snout stick out from the bushes, sniffing the air. “Oh gosh, it’s a bear. I just know it’s a bear. I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m dead.” It’s then that your brain kicks into flight-or-fight mode. Your first thought is probably to run away. It doesn’t matter that there’s no way you could outrun a bear or hide from it. People would probably say you’re ridiculous for trying. But, what else do you do? I know I’d run, the anxiety so intense I wouldn’t be able to think of anything I had learned in Girl Scouts about bears. I’d just run.

Life, for me and many others with chronic anxiety, is like walking through that dark forest. I’m always in a state of mild panic. And then, when I am called upon to do something, almost anything at this point, I feel as though I am faced with a giant, hungry, mother bear. I can’t think about anything except how to get away. Most people wouldn’t find what I am faced with nerve wracking. They have a hard time understanding why it’s so hard for me. A lot of people think I’m lazy and irresponsible. But I’m not like most people. For most my life I have dealt with anxiety and depression. And now as I am entering the world of adulthood, and all the responsibilities that come with it, it has increased into an unmanageable problem. Everything seems to be a bear, set on killing me. Going grocery shopping. Hanging out with friends. Making dinner. Going to work. Talking to people in general. And there are so many others who have this great of anxiety. The best thing anyone can do is being understanding. Knowing my friends understand when I cancel makes me feel like I can trust them and that next time, I can handle hanging out.

It takes a long time to get out of that dark forest, especially with a bear behind you. It’s an intensely frightening situation to be in. So when I cancel or call in sick or don’t respond to texts or phone calls, I’m in the middle of out running a bear and I’ll get back to you as soon as I feel safe.

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Please Don't Throw the Word 'Anxiety' Around Like It Means Nothing

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What does the word “anxiety” even mean?

Anxiety means different things to different people and everyone’s experiences with anxiety are unique to themselves. I believe this is why the word gets thrown around a lot.

Having an anxiety disorder is completely different than feeling anxious or nervous. Healthy anxiety is feeling nervous before a big exam or driving test. Having an anxiety disorder is being physically unable to carry out day to day activities because you are so overwhelmed with anxious thoughts and feelings. Most of the time, I don’t even know why I am feeling like this, and it can come upon me randomly in the middle of doing my shopping, or it can build up and I can feel it coming before I have even stepped outside the door.

For me, having an anxiety disorder feels like I am trapped inside a small box that is rapidly filling up with water and I am doing everything I possibly can to try and come up for air. It feels like I have been punched in my stomach and am trying my hardest to act like I’m fine. It’s constantly putting myself down and telling myself how much of a failure I am because I had to abandon my shopping trolley and go and sit in my car because it all got to be too much.

So, please don’t throw the word “anxiety” around like it means nothing. It may be insignificant to you, but for someone like me, it’s a part of my life every day and it is a lot more than just being nervous.

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How Anxiety Can Ruin Your Day

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The first thing I see when the alarm goes off is the light coming in between the blackout curtains. Dreams have terrorized me, as they often do, making me feel as though my heart is on the StairMaster. I look at my phone hoping to see what? I don’t know. I need to get up. I bury my mind in videos of cute animals, dogs saying “I love you,” cats finding their way home after being lost for years, goats. I know I need to shower. I know I do. I just… can’t. I can’t make myself get up, get going, get over it, whatever “it” is. I wait ’til the last minute, until I have only enough time to wash the spaces my dog likes to stick her nose in. What goes through her mind? “Oh, nice lady smell sad. I hope she still will play wif me.”

It’s 20 degrees and the sun is a rude party guest. I have made a mistake in not getting up. My son hates socks. “They bunch,” he whines.

It’s odd to sweat when you are cold, when you are still, when you cannot identify the “why.” The smell. It’s… I stretch my collar out just to confirm that it smells as bad as it usually does and sniff the tips of my fingers. That smell is not me. It can’t be.

I zip my coat. Fuck why won’t this thing zip up. Come on. Fuck. Come. ON. A lady wearing a coat that matches her dog’s tries not to make eye contact, but I see it. I see her judgment, unspooling like a typewriter ribbon. She’ll text her mom friend, the one whose children carry bento box lunches every day. Another layer of shame when I’m already overdressed.

I drive, but it doesn’t feel like driving. It feels like waiting in line. The trees are naked and grey. Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life… I wander back to the mid ’80s. I lost so many things between ’85 and ’90, innocence, people, illusions. My son bounces on each beat, “Are we gonna let the Now and Later break us down? Oh no, let’s go!” His cuteness should be a boon, but…

I drop him off with his grandmother. I should be more grateful. I should. I drive to the end of the block. The tick tock of my blinker signals right. I go left. I can’t go right today. I know I said I would, but I can’t. I turn off the radio. Drive home. Put on the alarm. Crawl into my bed. Under the covers, my heart is still on the StairMaster. Fresh tears wash the sand from my eyes.

For the next few hours, I lie. I lie to my friend who I was supposed to meet for lunch: “I’m suddenly nauseous. Raincheck?” I lie to my therapist: “I cannot come tonight. Something has come up.” I lie to myself: “This is the last bag of cookies I’m ever going to eat.” 

For a few minutes after every sleeve is empty and only crumbs rattle in the bag, I’m calm. I walk the evidence to the outside trash. No one ever looks in there.

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How Anxiety Affected My Retirement Experience

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After years of working — sometimes three different jobs at one time — I was able to retire. I had visions of spending lots of time with my grandchildren, taking trips and enjoying life with my husband. Unfortunately, this did not happen!

I have experienced bouts of anxiety off and on for most of my life. It has made it difficult to get close to people many times, and it was always a black cloud hanging over my head. I have taken meds off and on, gone to counseling and participated in many treatment options. I worked very hard at keeping it hidden, though. I considered it my “big secret.”

For the most part, no one knew that I struggled with anxiety. When I would have episodes, I would just take a step back and “deal” with it. Because I experience chronic pain due to many health issues, my family just attributed my “off days” as just having another bad day with pain. That became easier and easier as I got older. Retirement changed all that.

I went from working a very busy full-time job, actively volunteering and trying to be an involved wife, mother and grandmother, to not being able to leave the house without a full-blown panic attack. Sometimes being stuck in the house for months and months at a time. Or going out with my husband and gritting my teeth so hard I would give myself horrific migraines. And, what felt the most humiliating to me was when my claustrophobia had to make an appearance to the point my husband would have to sit on the toilet seat cover and talk to me so I could take a shower with the shower door open.

I don’t remember any of this being part of my retirement plan. The saddest part is I was talking to women I had met standing in a store and they were talking about not being able to get out of the house, and I asked to join the conversation. To my surprise, we were all three newly retired and experiencing similar episodes. The first thing that jumped to my mind was I don’t remember seeing anything about this in the barrage of “getting ready for retirement” mail and solicitations I had received. Nor any warnings from my friendly neighborhood physicians!

How many of us are there out in the “Congratulations, you are now retired!” community? I thought life would get easier in retirement, not more difficult.

So, I make appointments with myself. I set a date on the calendar, the same as I would for a medical appointment and leave the house. Even if it’s just to take a walk on our 60 acres, I make myself leave the house.

Easy? No!

Needed? Yes.

My husband is beginning to understand what is happening and the guilt I have for not being able to be the “fun wife” walking into retirement with him. This has felt unbearable at times.

So I take my anxiety meds, make my appointments and work at trying to deal with this. But I know now I am not the only one. I can think of at least two others!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via mheim3011.

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