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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

The winter quarters have always been the most stressful for me, and now more than ever, with the extension of online classes, I need a mental break. Although listening to my more aggressive rock can be cathartic when I’m feeling upset, I find more relief from the following songs, which can hopefully help you too. 

1. “rises the moon” by Liana Flores

I had never really listened to smaller artists from YouTube because I had never explored that avenue of music, but I am so grateful to have found Liana Flores through Spotify. All of her music has a very calming and intimate acoustic sound with positive messages about mental health, love, and identity. The simple raw audio of her voice and guitar in contrast with the complexity of her harmonies and additional instruments really shows her talent as an artist. This song is about finding hope in one’s dark night by looking at the moon, as it will always rise. 

2. “Hope” by Arlo Parks

Arlo Parks’ music also tends to surround mental health, love, and identity but explores these themes by describing her and her friends’ experiences with depression, toxic friendships, and unrequited love. In “Hope”, Arlo narrates her memory of watching a friend internalize her depression and try to hide it from her family and herself. Arlo repeats the phrases, “You’re not alone”, and, “We all have scars”, melodically throughout the song to remind the listener that one shouldn’t feel ashamed of their emotions.

3. “Jupiter Rainstorm” by Liana Flores

This song is an instrumental piece with gorgeous vocal and ukulele melodies that immediately calm me down. The sound is so simple and intimate that it sounds like a bewitching lullaby.

4. “God Only Knows” by Mathilda Mann

Mathilda Mann is another wonderful British Indie artist who I only recently discovered. Her music is also very acoustic but in more of a pop style. Her rendition of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” is a much more intimate version of the original. She maintains the same aura of the song but heightens the romance of it through the track’s use of a soft piano combined with her lush harmonies. Although not directly about mental health, the song has a calming effect that I think could translate to a message of self-love or a reminder that the listener is surrounded by the love of those around them.

5. “Total Control” by Djo

This song by Djo (actor Joe Keery’s artist name) is a relaxing song characterized by its complex yet smooth guitar solo and whispered “Relax,” “Lay it Back,” and “That’s That” phrases that bounce between your right and left earbuds. When listening to “Total Control”, I focus much more on the instrumental aspects of the song and find it both relaxing and encouraging. The simplicity of the lyrics combined with the intricately blended acoustics helps the listener come back to reality with more focus. 

College can be extremely overwhelming in every way shape or form, but hopefully, these few songs can help remind you to take a breath, put things into perspective, and keep moving forward.

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UCD '24