The unexpected but simple way you could relieve everyday anxiety

Posted by
Deborah Cicurel

As anyone who has suffered from anxiety will know, the condition can sometimes feel so debilitating and all-encompassing that it can often seem like there's no escape.

Sufferers try all kinds of therapies - cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation, hypnosis and countless others - in an attempt to relieve the negative thoughts and panicked worry in their minds.

However, therapists are now using a new way to relieve anxiety - and it could be revolutionary.

The Atlantic reports that more and more therapists are asking patients to use Songify, a music app, to make recordings of what worries them. 

Worry Anxiety Books

Songify turns the words you speak into your phone into a song, already auto-tuned and set to music. Therapists believe that the songs can help anxiety sufferers to overcome obsessive or negative thoughts through the principle that singing your thoughts separates you from their meaning.

As anxiety sufferers will know only too well, simply telling yourself not to think negative thoughts or to "focus on the positive" won't work, which is why Songify is becoming such a valued tool to therapists. 

“There is no delete button in the nervous system,” Steven Hayes - a psychology professor at the University of Nevada who has used Songify in his practice - told the magazine.

Instead of trying to convince yourself not to think about something, which is a futile exercise, he said it's best to treat negative thoughts as you would a meaningless song, where they exist, but they have "little bearing on your life".

While Songify, released four years ago, was designed for entertainment rather than therapy, the therapeutic thought behind the anxious songs has been around for decades.

Sally Winston, the co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland, told the magazine that patients often sung their worries to the tune of well-known melodies, and that she once treated a mother who would obsessively text her son by making her sing, “Johnny is dead by the side of the road” to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Singing Song Car

The idea behind the Songify technique is known as cognitive defusion, with a recent study finding that defusion techniques such as singing negative thoughts, or even saying them in a silly voice, reduced the frequency of the thoughts as well as making them seem less believable to the sufferer. Winston also said that singing negative thoughts works "better than stress-management, distraction, or breathing exercises". 

However, the method will not work on everyone. As Mark Sisti, the director of Suffolk Cognitive-Behavioral, who has used Songify in therapy for two or three years, told the magazine, the therapy is best suited to people who realise that their fears could be deemed as irrational or who are aware they are over-thinking things, rather than someone facing tragic circumstances or substantial financial worries. 

But for those anxiety sufferers who know that the onslaught of their negative thoughts, rather than dangerous or threatening circumstances, are the root of their problems, and who want to put a stop to them, Songify can be a godsend, making them feel immediately happier, increasingly relieved and at a safe distance from the obsessive thoughts that can be so debilitating. 

If you suffer from anxiety, don't deal with it alone. Get in touch with Mind, the mental health charity, here.


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Deborah Cicurel

Deborah Cicurel is a freelance journalist who writes about everything from lifestyle and travel to fashion and entertainment. She loves spicy maki rolls, cosy socks and visiting far-flung destinations, and is unable to walk past a dog on the street without stopping to befriend it.

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