Monday, June 4, 2012

Music - One Way to De-Stress

       Years ago, when I first began my career as a visiting nurse, I discovered that  the stress of a demanding profession had followed me out of the hospital and on to the highway.  In addition to the challenges of being out in the community, going into strangers' homes, assessing patients who were often discharged from the hospital too soon, I had to contend with  heavy traffic and finding my way from one place to the next in towns I had never been to before.  My home care career began prior to the days of Map-Quest and well before the days of the soft-spoken computer generated GPS voice smoothly correcting the driver when  she overshot or made a wrong turn.   Getting around the county involved a dog-eared Hagstrom's and the ability to make a  quick U-turn to avoid a 10 minute detour.  Needless to say, this added to the stress of an already stress-filled job. 

      I liked to decompress between patients by listening to the car radio.  Music was always a part of my day.  After  September 11, my stress level was suddenly off the charts and  I needed to find some music that would help me reach, if not Nirvana, at least a place where I could relax and mentally  calm myself for the next visit.  I turned off the Springsteen and the Eagles. I deleted the "oldies"  and I tuned out the jazz.  This music just revved me up  and added to my angst. 

        Initially,  like most other New Yorkers and probably most other Americans, I listened to the news, in an effort to make sense of what had happened.  After awhile, I began to recognize that listening to the endless talk about, not only September 11th but all things political, was, in a word, MAKING ME CRAZY. (Alright, in three words)

        One day I turned my dial to a classical station and as soon as I did, I felt myself take a deep breath and my whole body relax.  I was hooked.  Classical music has become my "go-to" choice most of the time whether I'm in the car or listening at home.  I especially love classical guitar and most works that feature a piano or cello.  Give me Mozart, give me Chopin, give me Beethoven.  Not that I really know or care who or what I'm listening to, usually I don't.   I have also discovered that there are many recordings of chant music , recorded in great Benedictine cathedrals which can soothe the agitated soul.  In a similar vein, there are numerous recordings of meditative gongs, bells, flutes based on Eastern contempletive listening.  

   A word of caution about some music designed specifically for meditation. Unlike classical music,  it is not suitable for listening to while driving a car.  The Admiral and I once visited the Southwest and during the trip  we purchased a CD of music based on the drumming of Native Indigenous People from the Southwest.  We were driving through the desert and decided to put it on the CD player in the car.  After about 15 minutes, I was beginning to get drowsy and as is my custom, I said to my husband,"  Are you awake?"  I need reassurance that he isn't sleepy before I succumb.  He said,"Actually, I am very sleepy and I was thinking of pulling over."  We both felt a strong  hypnotic effect from the drumming.  We pulled off the road and took a rather long nap.  We decided to save the drumming CD for a quiet evening at home.

     There are many genres of music and not every type of music is relaxing to everyone.  Jazz relaxes my husband but  makes me feel like I'm being tortured.   I guess one man's music is another man's noise!  

   Here is one video of music I love and find very relaxing.  Click on the video, then click again on 'Watch on You Tube'  That should take you there.. Relax and enjoy!

I wanted to embed several examples of the music I find relaxing, but I was unable to do that.   I'll post some more   another day.

Take-Away -  classical music helps me de-stress.


  1. A nice glass of red wine while listening to the Southwest Indian drumming CD you mention, sounds like the perfect way to relax and enjoy a good nights sleep.

    1. Wine plays tricks on me. I'm wide awake by 2AM after a glass of wine. On the other hand, a glass of dark beer might work. And you are right about the drums, they are trance-inducing!

  2. Ahhhh...another soothing, calming blog to start my morning today. Thank you. I, too, have Gregorian chant music on my i-phone/i-pod. I listen while quilting - so soothing. LOVE Yo-Yo Ma! Also have his music in my library.
    Beautiful images. I so appreciate this blog!! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Chris. I'm so glad you are enjoying it. The choices in classical music are virtually endless. I also like soothing silence but when I need music I often turn on the classics.


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