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Music can help students cope with the stress and anxiety of being in college

Music therapy gives college students an engaging and effective way to deal with stress and anxiety


"One of the many benefits of music is stress reduction." Illustration published on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

Being a college student comes with inevitable stress.

Instead of turning to drinking and drugs for relief during such demanding times, students can  turn to safer and more positive ways of releasing stress.

Music therapy is not as widespread a topic as it should be, especially in regards to its numerous healing properties.

Therapy, in general, is a scary concept for most people due to the stigmas that surround it. 

However, musical therapy has various healing qualities and can offer many benefits to those who partake in it. 

For example, studies show that engaging with music in some way can reduce heart rate and blood pressure. 

 “Music therapy is using music as a tool to meet non-musical goals, whether it is to relieve depression, stress or pain. It even lowers blood pressure depending on the type of music, and it can even stimulate the brain,” Clarivel Santos, who is a former counselor at ASU and music therapist-board certified, said.

Most people love music; it is the supposed universal language of mankind. So it comes as no surprise that anyone from cancer patients to college students has access to the benefits of music therapy.

Students love music, and they also love things being readily available and cost friendly. Lucky for them, they don't even need to leave their dorms to reap the benefits of music therapy

“There’s music healing in a passive way, which is kind of just listening to music. Sometimes when we’re stressed from work, just playing some quiet music to relax to can be healing," Santos said. "For someone with depression, sometimes listening to a song that matches their mood or has some lyrics they can relate to can be healing.” 

You may already be experiencing some healing properties of music just by lying in bed with a pair of headphones in. Listening to a song can help you to process your emotions, or simply unwind after a long day.

Now, you can acknowledge that although you may seem to be “chilling,” you’re actually putting yourself in a relaxed state and engaging with your emotions.

This is something that college students have a lot of difficulty with. We all seem to be bottling up our emotions, and inflicting even more unnecessary stress on ourselves. This can eventually lead to depression and anxiety. 

However, listening to music is not the only form of music therapy. 

“A more active approach is playing music," Santos said. "In music therapy, we do improvisation with percussion instruments. We do drum circles. People will play drums together and the sound can be very healing and it provides a sense of community as well. It has become very popular.” 

Some people feel like they need to know to play the instrument correctly or that they need to be a musician. However, the important part of music therapy is self-expression.

“Even (actively) writing a song with some lyrics about their own experience and then the music therapist assisting them in putting a melody to what they wrote can be healing and therapeutic in itself,” Santos said.

ASU should help promote music therapy on campus and teach the community about its benefits.

Stress, anxiety and depression do not have to be a burden and neither does the healing process. Music therapy offers a healthy and accessible outlet for students, and can even create fun and supportive communities students can engage in.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Santos was a former professor at ASU. The article has been updated to reflect this change.

Reach the columnist at or follow on Twitter @trwscuit.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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