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As college students, I think we can all agree that at this point of the semester, we are searching to find any last bit of motivation left within us. Our month-long winter break is quickly approaching, but we must make it through the last wave of assignments and finals before we can fully relax- the part of the semester I think of as “crunch time”. While these next few weeks might get overwhelming at times, one way to combat the negative feelings that accompany them is through music. 

Almost anyone who knows me knows that I cannot go an entire day without my AirPods. My playlists get me through my homework assignments, bus rides, and workouts. Quite honestly, on the days I forget to grab them on my way out the door, my mood is instantly dampened. I turn to music, mainly, as a way to cope with any feelings I am experiencing. However, for the purpose of this article I want to focus on the variety of benefits music has in helping with stress and anxiety. 

The healing powers of music have been known since the time of philosophers like Aristotle, and studies today continue to show the enormous benefits music has on mental health. Listening to music has been shown to increase dopamine levels, providing an ultimate mood boost. When this “feel good” chemical is released in the brain, it can leave listeners feeling happy and more motivated to complete challenging tasks. Researchers from Stanford University claim that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication, in many circumstances.” Since there are so many different genres of music, it can be used in various situations and for many different purposes. 

Further studies conducted by Stanford researchers have shown that slower music can help promote relaxation, while faster music can increase alertness and concentration. The music you choose to listen to probably varies depending on what you’re doing. Personally, I like upbeat pop music when working out, but I prefer peaceful instrumental music when studying. If you’re trying to finish work or need a long study session, try listening to this playlist from Spotify:


I enjoy playlists like these, in particular, because they include songs that do not have any words in them. This prevents me from getting distracted by catchy lyrics, especially when trying to read or write.

If you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed or like you just need that extra bit of motivation, try turning to music therapy as a way to cope. Putting in headphones can help shut off your mind, allowing you to focus all of your attention on whatever it is that you are doing. Whether you’re in need of some relaxation or having to concentrate on an assignment, there is a playlist that can help do the trick this upcoming finals season!

Samantha Fornini is a sophomore at Rutgers University majoring in Linguistics with a minor in Cognitive Science. On her free time she enjoys reading, hanging with friends, and running!