Stress from the looming US presidential election is all too real. Data from fitness trackers show citizens literally losing sleep, and a recent study from the American Psychological Association found that 52% of adults have suffered some sort of emotional discomfort due to the race, with heightened feelings of “concern and frustration” most common.
(“Avoid getting into discussions about the election if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict,” the APA helpfully suggests in the study’s conclusion.)
In light of all the jittery anxiety, which is sure to continue plaguing many voters no matter the election’s outcome, Quartz has compiled some perfect, calming tracks to ease your politically-strained nerves.
Let the ocean guide you
A wealth of research promotes nature, and specifically the sounds and images of the sea, as a universal stress-reliever. The natural lull of the ocean can easily help you forget about everything happening on land (provided you also push ongoing debates about environmental policies out of mind, that is).
Hour-long loops of ocean waves are available aplenty on the internet:
As are soothing recordings of the creatures inhabiting those waters:
Songs sans words
Music lowers your levels of the stress hormone cortisol—but some types, a lot more so than others. Research says classical music, for instance, is especially helpful for people recovering from a traumatic event (two words that some would say very aptly describe the 2016 election).
In general, tracks without lyrics are the most ideal for anyone looking to de-stress. These types of songs don’t engage the brain’s language center, and they allow listeners to carry on other tasks while harnessing the power of a steady rhythm in the background. They’re also best for listening while at work.
For extended tension-free listening, try movie tunes or video game soundtracks—which are specifically made to keep you engaged without being distracting.
Deep, meditative rhythms
Whale noise or Clint Mansell soundtracks not your thing? Try turning to gongs, singing bowls, and tuning forks—all of these instruments produce rich, resonant sounds that can place listeners in a meditative state, and have been shown to be highly effective for cutting down on stress.
Professional sound healers use percussive beats and chants to treat problems like chronic pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, and PTSD. Despite some skepticism from the scientific community, the use of repetitive sounds and chants to heal the sick is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years—it dates as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Australia’s Aborigines.
And producing deep, resonant sounds yourself may be even more beneficial than passively listening to it, so sign up for a group drum circle or a package of music lessons if you’re really feeling strained.
Try the scientifically “perfect” song
Quell your anxiety with a track that’s tailor-made to make you feel better.
Sound therapist Lyz Cooper created an eight-minute song that is able to reduce listeners’ anxiety by 65%, according to a study from market-research firm Mindlab. “Weightless” starts out at a tempo of 60 beats per minute and gradually falls to 50 beats per minute—supposedly slowing down listeners’ heartbeats in the process.
The song uses tones that promote a psychological sense of safety, and it doesn’t have any repeating melodies, so your brain isn’t constantly trying to predict what comes next. Listen with noise-cancelling headphones for the strongest effect.
Still tense? If all else fails, maybe just embrace your election anxiety altogether. There are plenty of protest songs right now through which you can channel your (messy, angry, jumbled) feelings.