It's probably safe to say music has a transformative effect, carrying the ability to significantly change our moods and emotions. Especially for those who experience anxiety, music is a form of escapism and an outlet for settling restless thoughts.
While some songs speak directly to mental health struggles or hardships — reminding us it’s OK to not feel OK all the time — others simply have melodies and rhythms that evoke a sense of calm. Below, we’ve compiled a list of songs that capture both of these spirits. You’ll find some classics, softer ballads, and even a couple of empowering anthems.
Of course, music and its interpretations are subjective, so let this list be a collection to get started with. Maybe you’ll discover something new, or find the direction for a comfort playlist of your own. And never forget you're not alone; many celebs have anxiety as well, including Selena Gomez, Lizzo, and Camila Cabello.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, you can call the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine at 1-(800)-950-NAMI (6264) or visit their website.
"It's Nice to Be Alive" by Ball Park Music
The chorus is a great reminder there are people who care about you and to not let your anxiety get the best of you: Don't stress / That's dumb / I'm here / And it's nice to be alive / Chill out / It's all right / Kiss me / It's nice to be alive.
"My Mind & Me" by Selena Gomez
"Michael in the Bathroom" from Be More Chill
You don't have to have seen the Broadway musical Be More Chill to understand what's going on in this song. We've all been to a party or event where we stayed inside the bathroom a little bit too long, just to get some peace and quiet and solitude.
"The Monster" by Eminem ft. Rihanna
"Safe & Sound (Taylor's Version)" by Taylor Swift
Originally, Taylor Swift created this song for the Hunger Games soundtrack with the Civil Wars. The melody is very soothing and can help calm you down if you're in the middle of an anxiety attack.
"I Don't Care" by Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber
Going to social events can make your anxiety spike, but thankfully there's this song by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber that's about their struggles with anxiety — especially those in social situations.
"Under Pressure" by Queen
This hit '80s song, originally released as a single by Queen and David Bowie, is a true power anthem to scream-sing to when you feel like you're about to explode.
Maybe you have so many exams to prepare for and no time to study. Or, maybe you're trying to work full-time while also going to school and having a social life. Whatever stress you're currently dealing with right now, belting out "Under Pressure" will help alleviate some of that anxiety.
"Waving Through a Window" from Dear Evan Hansen
The title character in this Broadway musical and movie adaptation has social anxiety and depression. "Waving Through a Window" is the second song in the show and perfectly highlights how it feels to be invisible and desperately wanting to change that.
"Fake Happy" by Paramore
We've all pretended that things were OK when they really weren't, and this song from Paramore is here to let you know that it's totally fine if you're NOT totally fine right now.
"Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men
Anxiety surrounding a person's relationship can sometimes feel even more debilitating than more generalized anxiety, and this song by Of Monsters and Men helps express that feeling.
"Unwell" by Matchbox Twenty
The lyrics from the chorus, But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell, are good ones to remember when you're dealing with anxiety and feel like you're losing grip on reality.
"Help I'm Alive" by Metric
The song talks about someone's "heart beating like a hammer," which is how it can feel when you're in the middle of an anxiety attack.
"Why Should I Worry" by Billy Joel
This song from Disney's Oliver & Company will quickly have you singing along and watching those anxious feelings fade away.
"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles
An oldie but a goodie. An upbeat tune that carries the reminder that brighter days lie ahead, do-do-do-do. 🎶
"this is me trying" by Taylor Swift
No matter how you interpret the literal meaning of the lyrics, Taylor’s soft melody prompts us to remember that we’re all just doing the best we can.
"Free Spirit" by Khalid
In an interview with MTV News, Khalid revealed the essence behind this heartfelt track: “I love the idea of becoming a free spirit, but I acknowledge the fact that I'm not one now, which allows me to be excited to be one in the future. I'm all for finding out.”
"Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman’s hit song from the 1980s is a heavy account of life’s difficult obstacles, and her dynamic lyrics make the song relatable to anyone experiencing a personal struggle.
"Saturday Sun" by Vance Joy
Accompanied by a ukulele, Vance Joy’s “Saturday Sun” resonates with each and every one of us who has experienced the highs and lows in life.
"Vienna" by Billy Joel
*Maybe* this song reminds us all too well of that pivotal scene from 13 Going on 30. But hearing, Slow down you're doing fine / You can't be everything you want to be before your time, centers our soul. You’ll get to wherever you’re headed — just give it time.
"Shake It Out" by Florence + the Machine
This is arguably one of the most empowering anthems to exist, if that’s the tune you’re in the mindset for. As Florence proclaims, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
Leah Campano is an Associate Editor at Seventeen, where she covers pop culture, entertainment news, health, and politics. On the weekends, you can probably find her watching marathons of vintage Real Housewives episodes or searching for New York City’s best almond croissants.
Stacey Grant is a senior editor at Seventeen who runs the brand's Snapchat Discover channel. She also covers entertainment topics specializing in nostalgia, such as classic '90s and '00s Disney Channel and Nickelodeon content.
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