It was already dark by the time I got home from school. All throughout the day I was reminded of the upcoming exams and assignments due the next week that I hadn’t yet started, so I went straight to my room to finish them up. The thing was, the Shakespeare play we were studying made no sense, so I went looking online for study guides, which really meant I was tagging friends in memes for a couple hours, until my mum yelled at me to eat my dinner and I emerged from my room bleary-eyed, grumpy, and no closer to finishing my essays.
It was only at midnight that a real sense of panic set in, and I stayed up frantically mashing at my laptop until I felt I had at least a basic understanding of all the assignments that were due. I went to sleep at 3am that night.
When I awoke a few hours later, I felt entirely unrested. I managed to drag myself through a shower and onto a train, and though it was peak hour, I found an empty seat and plonked my tired ass down, putting my headphones in.
It was only then that I felt my busy brain go quiet. I was no longer calculating the number of hours I needed to set aside to get all my work done, nor was I remembering and forgetting and remembering and forgetting all the maths formulas for my next test.
My mind was still, and I lapped up those buttery beats with a smile on my face and a nod to my head. By the time I got to school, my phone was nearly out of battery, but I felt charged enough to take on the day.
The power of music in managing stress and anxiety levels is more than just anecdotal; science backs it too. One study suggests that music may be more effective in lowing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels than anti-anxiety drugs in patients who are about to undergo surgery. Another measured brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing to find songs that lowered overall stress levels by up to 65%. The effects of music on the brain are so vast, there are even therapies that use it to help heal damage and trauma.
What this means for us students, is that a favourite leisure activity can also be used to help us get through the stress of exams and finishing school.
While the bulk of research supports the use of slow, calming music to slow down our heart rates and improve concentration and whatnot, anyone with ears knows that songs don’t have to follow those rules for us to feel the effects; as long as we’re enjoying the sounds, we’re going to feel more relaxed.
There’s also certainly something to be said about letting loose and rocking out to some bass on the weekends, too. Particularly now, after a stressful week of uni and waiting tables, dancing to music in a sweaty club can sometimes be the only way to way for me to really reset myself.
Heck, it’s even said that the UK rave scene came about as a response to the stress brought upon by a despised government, and if tripping over your own feet was good enough for them, it’s certainly good enough for me.