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Using Your Senses to Change Your Mood: Hearing

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As humans we are gifted with 5 amazing senses that work with the brain to process and interpret our environment. Our thoughts can often get stuck on a gerbil wheel, constantly repeating and reinforcing the thought, mood or feeling that we have. Usually the the items on repeat are not the things that bring out the best in us like ”I’m a strong beautiful person who can endure this stress” and if it were it would serve us much better than the alternative. Usually the wheel is full of negative, self doubt or destructive thoughts and emotions.

What you choose to listen to can be an emotional gift. It can set the tone or general mood, elicit emotions and bring forth memories. In this modern day world we are bombarded with different sounds but how often do we really listen to them and use them to our advantage? It’s important to be mindful while in a heightened emotional state what you are listening to as it can have an impact on your mood. Few people will find the sounds of construction, jackhammers or garbage trucks soothing. These are sounds in our environment which we have to tolerate and usually do our best to tune out. Yet, replace those with sounds of nature, a guided meditation or even mindfully listening to someone with a soothing voice on a neutral topic and it can help to relax and ease some of the intensity. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the late painter Bob Ross and his ‘happy little trees’. If you are not familiar, he had a public tv show “The Joy of Painting” where he would demonstrate painting techniques while narrating what and how he was doing it for the audience. There is a calm and soothing quality to his voice and the content was optimistic as he would encourage the audience to participate at home. This is viewable on YouTube. Again, this is personal preference and as with any good coping skill it is about customizing it to the individual, these are just examples and suggestions.

The use of music as a self soothing technique has been practiced long before it had begun being researched in the field of psychology. Although we all have different preferences in what genre of music we prefer and each can have a different emotional impact on us based on the arrangement of the sound and the content of the vocalization (if singing is involved) it is a universal go-to for communicating and eliciting emotional responses. Music is utilized not only in its own genre but in advertising, to score movies and as a tool within therapy. It is important to note that what you listen to is important when in a very emotional state. At times it may lead to an emotional relief but not always. It may feel cathartic while depressed to listen to sad songs but it can also further feed into depression. The same can be said for those who are listening to high beats per minute music while feeling anxious. Figuring out what works best for you in order to elicit self soothing and relaxation can be a great tool in order to assist in lowering heightened emotional states such as depression, anxiety or anger and can be used as another tool for your tool box.

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