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Therapy Through the Tempo

How music can help us work through emotions

By Cathryn DennisonPublished 3 years ago 8 min read

If you are like me, no matter how old you are, you can connect your feelings to music so easily that there is hardly a moment when you’re not listening to it. Music can bring people together, make you feel like there’s someone out there who understands you, and help you get through the toughest of time.

And that is what it did for me. I grew up and still fight anxiety and depression every day, but before I was able to reach out for help, music was one of the few things that held me together. Not a lot of people think about just how expressive you can be through music or how it can help you get through certain emotions, but that’s what I’d like to do for you: share these strategies of self-healing and self-reflection through music.

Note: Some of the songs in these lists contain Explicit Lyrics and/or Content

Songs to listen to when you’re feeling too:


There are a lot of different types of anger, and thankfully, there are thousands of different songs to help you through these types. One thing I did was make several different playlists depending on how angry I was; irritated, frustrated, and nuclear.

When I had just gotten a little irritated and didn’t want to see full-on red, I usually listen to songs like:

  1. “bad guy” by Billie Eilish
  2. “Thumbs” by Sabrina Carpenter
  3. “Feel Something” by ILLENIUM, Excision & I Prevail
  4. “What’s Up Danger” by Blackway & Black Caviar
  5. “HUSHH” by AViVA
  6. “Freedom” by EMM

For me, these songs are some of the best when I’m trying not to let my bad mood get to me, regardless of what caused it. At the same time, it gives me a chance to acknowledge the fact that I am in a bad mood rather than hiding or repressing it.

On the other hand, when I’m far out of my window (have no chance of calming down until after my emotional roller coaster has returned to the station), here are a few songs that I listen to express my aggression:

  1. “No Glory” by Skan & Krale feat. Mime & Drama B
  2. “Fight Back” by NEFFEX
  3. “My Nightmare” by Get Scared
  4. “The Grave feat. Gabriella Hook (Original Mix)” by Apashe, Black Tiger Sex Machine
  5. “Bad Apple!! (feat. Christina Vee)” by RichaadEB
  6. “Leave Me Alone” by NF

These songs are the best go-to when all other songs just make me even more short-tempered and irritated. It’s not that I hate the upbeat songs that are great for dancing to the second they come on. Rather, there’s only one thing that I want to listen to in these moments of pure, unfiltered anger when it’s fresh, songs that show exactly what I would love to openly express: anger.

And, honestly, these songs can help me get through those feelings in a quick and healthy way, especially if they come before the ones above them or transition into a more calm and somber set that can be found below. Emotional playlists are like rivers: they can start at one end, but in order to reach the other, it has to keep flowing.


Whether you are feeling hurt by a friend, family member, or lover by something they said or did, there are MANY different songs from a wide variety of genres out there. Sometimes, we want to go back to our angry playlist, other times we may feel sad, and, when we aren’t in either of those emotional states, we usually just want to try and feel like we’re invincible enough to not get hurt again.

For me, after I get some of my anger out with the previously mentioned songs, I’ll either play the songs that have some pretty brutally honest lyrics to the situation like:

  1. “Leave” by Jojo
  2. “New Rules” by Dua Lipa
  3. “Rx (Medicate)” by Theory of a Deadman
  4. “I Still Know You” by Jacob Lee
  5. “Too Bad” by Nickleback
  6. “Losing You” by Ephiza & Laura Brehm
  7. “Breaking Inside” by Shinedown

Or, if I am trying to build up my ‘shield’ to ease my anxiety and pain, I’ll listen to:

  1. “Stronger” by TheFatRat, Anjulie, & Slaydit
  2. “Crossroad (feat. Danyka Nadeau)” by Au5
  3. “Human” by Rag’n’Bone Man
  4. “Not Your Baby” by Cadmium and Jex
  5. “Backwards Love (feat. TRACE)” by Taska Black
  6. “Good Thing Fall Apart vs. Sad Songs (feat. Annika Wells)” by ILLENIUM

When I’m feeling down in the dumps because of someone else, or sometimes because of myself, I listen to songs like these because I want to know that I am not alone in what has happened to me.

Sometimes, when I’m too anxious about telling someone that they’ve hurt me (whether they meant it or not), I’ll play either of these playlists with my speakers as a way to let them know how I am feeling; they know my music-listening-habits. So, if you are like me and have trouble with communication, trying to do it through some of these playlists and songs can help to convey your feelings.


Whether you’re feeling the fresh wound of heartbreak or you’re trying to move past a breakup that happened a long time ago, some songs can help you see when your heart is broken versus when you want it to start healing.

I listen to these songs when I feel like I may have broken someone’s heart because of something I’ve said or done:

  1. “Hold On” by Chord Overstreet
  2. “Call Me” by Shinedown
  3. “Tiring Game” by John Newman feat. Charlie Wilson
  4. “Say Something” by Anna Blue & Damien Dawn
  5. “If You Only Knew” by Shinedown
  6. “Bad at Love” by Halsey

And here are some songs that I listen to when I am trying to get over my own broken heart:

  1. “DNGRS (feat ASDIS)” by Besomorph
  2. “Icy” by Kim Petras
  3. “Sally’s Song” by Amy Lee
  4. “I Never Stay In Love” by Stephen
  5. “Dancing On My Own” by Calum Scott
  6. “Breathe” by CUTTS
  7. “Distance” by Christina Perri
  8. “Be Fine (feat. Wafia)” by Ekali

When your heart is broken, it can feel like your entire world has crumbled when the cause is a quick end to a relationship between you and a love interest, a friend, or a family member. It can take some time to make room for the pain and pick up the pieces, but these songs can help ground you between their temp, keys, and heart-piercing lyrics.


Sometimes, we expect better from ourselves or others, and sometimes, no one meets these expectations. When that happens, I know I can’t help but beat myself up over it until I, eventually, begin to reflect on the standards and either acknowledge that they were unreasonable or I try to move on and grow from it.

When I’m feeling disappointed in others, I usually like to listen to:

  1. “Let Me Down Slowly” by Alec Benjamin
  2. “I miss you, I’m sorry” by Gracie Abrams
  3. “Worst of You” by Masie Peters
  4. “I Don’t Care” by Fall Out Boy

When I’m disappointed in myself, I tend to listen to these songs to mellow in it or water it out and focus on getting in my Zen zone:

  1. “Vices” by Mothica
  2. “Everything At Once” by Mothica
  3. “The Mystic” by Adam Jensen
  4. “Hate Myself” by NF
  5. “Anxiety” by Besomorph & The Tech Thieves
  6. “Epoch (The Living Tombstone Remix)” by The Living Tombstone
  7. “RISE (feat. The Word Alive by League of Legends)” by League of Legends

Disappointment can easily consume you, especially if it is in yourself, but just like a good song: there are highs, lows, and a beat that you have to connect with in order for there to be heart and soul.


It’s easy to be scared because of things you can’t change. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us that. Whether it’s a fear of germs, other people, or fear of yourself, the biggest fuel to that fear is the unknown. That’s why it is so easy to find comfort in music and songs: they’re familiar to us, even if we’ve never heard the song before.

Here are some songs that I listen to when I am afraid that, through their lyrics, beat, or familiarity, reassure me that I’ll be okay:

  1. “Give Me A Sign” by Breaking Benjamin
  2. “You’re Not Alone” by Saosin
  3. “Under Pressure” by Queen
  4. “Born For This” by The Score
  5. “Be Alright (feat. EMEL)” by Stonebank

Maybe you realized that you were/are scared, but you don’t know why or can’t seem to calm down. Like all of the emotions above, the best way to relax and move past them is to first see and accept these feelings. These songs can help with that:

  1. “Tell Me What You’re Running From?” by Written by Wolves
  2. “Afraid” by The Neighourhood
  3. “Safe Here” by Patrick Dorgan
  4. “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
  5. “Easier To Run” by Linkin Park


Every few months, or even every few weeks, I feel like I’m not doing enough. I feel like I should be working twice or three times as hard to get to where I want to be already, to reach my goal. That restlessness and impatience to ‘start the next phase of my life’ can drive me absolutely crazy, especially when the next phase can be years away.

So, if you’re finding it harder to relax and be patient for the future, check out some of these songs:

  1. “Mayday” by TheFatRat feat. Laura Brehm
  2. “Fire In Me” by John Newman
  3. “GIANTS (feat. Soyeon of (G)-IDLE, DUCKWRTH, Thutmose & League of Legends)” by True Damage, Becky G & Keke Palmer
  4. “Overthinker” by INZO
  5. “Midnight City” by M83
  6. “Alive” by Krewella

Not everyone can understand this restlessness, and when we talk about it to these other people, we can often feel strange, abnormal, or alone. However, these songs, hopefully, will inspire you to keep moving forward in your pursuits while not being discouraged by others:

  1. “Time” by NF
  2. “Be Somebody” by Thousand Foot Krutch
  3. “Alone” by Nico Collins
  4. “The Monster” by Eminem
  5. “Religion (Original Mix)” by Black Tiger Sex Machine, LeKtriQue
  6. “Jump Up, Super Star!” by The Living Tombstone


When all is said and done, after experiencing all of these negative and gravity-defying emotions, we can feel like there isn’t a future to look forward to. We can feel lost, alone, and utterly hopeless. In these moments, music can have the power to give you enough strength to look up at the sky or down at the ground, take a deep breath, and realize that you are still standing, you are still here.

There are some songs that can give a bittersweet sense of hope:

  1. "Lovely" by Billie Eilish (ft. Khalid)
  2. "disappear" by eli.
  3. "Sorry" by Halsey
  4. "Break Your Knees" by Flyleaf
  5. "Help! Oh Well…" by SomeThingElseYT
  6. "Stumbling in Your Footsteps" by Get Scared

While others can uplift us and our mood:

  1. "Better Days" by Arman Cekin & Faydee
  2. "If We Have Each Other" by Alec Benjamin
  3. "I Miss The Days" by NF
  4. "Forever" by FireFlight
  5. "Things Are Gonna Get Better" by Neffex


I’ve used music to get me through some of the hardest times of my life. There isn’t a day where I am not surrounded by music in some way, shape, or form. I sing, drum, and air guitar in the shower, during car rides, and when I feel like my heart is overflowing with emotion. At the same time, my head is trying to solve every single puzzle of the world, function enough to handle school, work, and my future career goals while managing my social relationships.

Music is my respite. It’s my sanctuary. And it’s my solace. It’s also my soul and inner fuel of inspiration. What is it for you?

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, please give this a like and share it as it helps me grow and continue to write. Stay tuned for more by following me on Twitter, too.


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    Cathryn DennisonWritten by Cathryn Dennison

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