10 Songs That Help Me Cope With Stress

I know there will be a lot of work and pressure in the upcoming weeks, so I want to share a playlist of ten songs that I like to listen to when I am stressed. To clarify my taste in music: I like soft rock, indie rock and folk with sophisticated lyrics. Just to warn you, there are a lot of old songs, and I feel 50 years old every time I play them on a road trip. Don’t get me wrong, of course I do listen to new songs and love them, but most of them just come and go very quickly. However, many of these are the songs that have been remaining in my playlist for up to six years and still touch me, comfort me and calm me down every time when I look back to them. You could call them classics.

10. Lucky by Jason Mraz ft. Colby Caillat  

I first came across this song in 8th grade when I was listening to the radio at the bus station while waiting for the ride home. It has been six years since then yet it still makes me smile every single time. It is so simple and sweet that it's impossible to not feel blessed when you hear that “lucky to have been where I have been” line.

9. Desperado by The Eagles

My dad loves the Eagles, and apparently he passed down his love to me. "Hotel California" may be their most famous song, but "Desperado" is my personal favorite. This is a song with lots of insight to life, proverbial wisdom, and, of course, Don Henley’s legendary vocals.  

8. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

I can’t remember how or when I first heard this song but it is impossible get over it. There is a complexity of emotions in it: love, hate, blessed or desperation, and I choose Jeff Buckley’s cover because I think his voice has a hint of loss and sadness, which is so addictive to me. I thought I couldn't love it more until one day in the past summer I climbed up the stairs to Jaffa Gate after nightfall just lucky enough to see the film of a duet version of this song being projected onto the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was a poignant and heart-melting moment.  

7. Take Me to Church by Hozier

I feel like I’ve had the song on my playlist since the day it was released four years ago. The rhythm is very dramatic and powerful. Words can’t explain how much I love the lyrics; they are beautiful and poetic, and people can listen to them and understand the song in many different ways that resonate with their own lives.

6. Five Hundred Miles by Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan & Stark Sands

This is the song for anyone who is away from home. It reminds you of your hometown, your family and anything you left behind to chase your dreams. This beautiful trio made  my favorite cover among the many versions of this song (from the soundtrack of Inside Llewyn Davis). You know it’s a good piece of music when it has been covered so many times through decades but still inspires every generation of people who ever listens to it.

5. Hero by Family of the Year

Boyhood brought me to this song. I watched this movie until 2 am in the morning and couldn’t get the song out of my mind. Like the movie, this is the song that brings back all the memories from childhood and through growing up. “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.” 

4. Love Will Set You Free by Kodaline

This is probably the least known song in the list but I kind of like it that way because it makes me feel very personally connected to the song. Listening to it is like having someone talking to you, telling you everything is going to be okay. I remember listening to it intensively during the final week of my freshman year when I was under a lot of pressure, and it got me through. “This ain’t no sad song. Life has to go on.”

3. I’ll Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

Four years ago someone played this song at the Christmas concert at my high school. Earlier last year when I was about to graduate, one of my school mates passed away. And afterwards after replaying this song again and again, I come to realize that although the topic about the death of a loved one is heavy, it carries out more courage and strength than sadness. It’s like standing at the end of the life, looking back, and thinking “I’ve got a good one.” 

2. Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

I’ve probably watched Once a hundred times, and I’m sure I’ll do it another hundred times. Just like the movie, the song describes several scenes and events happen between a pair of almost lovers. I have to say that the way the song ends is kind of painful and heartbreaking, but I find it beautiful and stunning just the way it is.

1. Don't Cry (Original Version) by Guns N’ Roses

Sometimes I wonder if I’m only allowed to listen to one song for the rest of my life, which one would I pick, and every time I come to the same conclusion. This song. I see myself in every note and every word of this song. This is the song that can truly console me and calm me down anytime I feel I’ve had enough of everything. It’s called "Don’t Cry" but I guess many people can’t help but cry through it, and so do I.