Raise your voice and reduce stress

One simple and surprising stress reduction tip for introverts

Arkady Lifshitz, Unsplash.com

If you are an introvert, you probably know the feeling — the feeling of focusing all of your stress inward until it grows and grows. Every bit of bad news or tension or grief gets funneled inside into a pit in your gut and constantly replayed in your head. The worries start to layer on top of each other and glom together to create a seething and bubbling mass of stress that you can feel mentally, emotionally and even physically. As an introvert, you probably take in the stress and don’t have a good way to release it.

The worries start to layer on top of each other and glom together to create a seething and bubbling mass of stress…

For me, when the noise inside my head gets too loud and the ball of stress is seething, I generally get more quiet with the outside world. I talk less and express less which just reinforces the inner battle. Not surprisingly, this reaction is not healthy or productive. Internalizing the worries forces me to re-live them over and over in a mindless and purposeless whirlwind of overthinking and obsession. It does not help me solve my problems or make me stronger or more resilient.

Finding a solution

Knowing that I am happier and healthier when not obsessing about every negative aspect of my life, I am always in search of ways to re-focus and quiet my inner voice and critic. Exercise, stretching and meditation help — when I make the time and effort to do them.

Image from Davide Ragusa, Unsplash.com

Recently I found a new tactic — one that does not require a lot of time or scheduling or energy. This new stress-relief tip came to me through an unlikely event — a funeral.

My dear friends’ father passed away. I grew up across the street from this family and spent considerable time in their home. The service, held in the family church, focused on celebrating his life and was filled with song. The father had been a glorious tenor who sang at church, in professional choirs and with other singing groups. Several of the tributes to him were done in song — a duet by his two of his daughters and a song by members of his a cappella singing group. With those songs and the hymns, the sanctuary hummed with the power and connectedness that comes through a group singing together. The reception, hosted by the church ladies in the gathering hall, included a lovely spread of homemade treats and snacks. Before partaking, one family member requested that we all join in to their family tradition of singing the grace. He led us in singing the word “amen” with a simple tune. It was a joyous and hopeful tune with the only words being “amen” repeated over and over. The song and the singing led to feeling more relaxed and at peace.

Sing Out the Stress

The following week, I found myself saddened by death, stressed about work and anxious about some decisions that needed to be made. I could feel the bubbling stress mass growing in my gut as I focused all of this internally. One morning I realized I was clenching my jaw and clutching the steering wheel as I drove to work. At that moment, the “Amen” song popped into my mind. Remembering that it had made me feel more peaceful at the funeral, I started to sing. Alone in the car, my voice came out in a whisper- faint and hesitating. I am not a good singer, since I am tone deaf and rarely sing. I started soft — with a cracking voice. But my voice got stronger and louder as I drove, until I was singing quite loudly! I felt foolish — at one point I stopped and laughed at myself. Hearing my voice — out loud, singing and strong — surprised me. But I felt better, more centered and more relaxed. Singing during my 15 minute drive to work changed my stress level and prepared me for the day.

Neal Kharawala, Unsplash.com

Introverts need an expressive way to release some of their stress and tension. This song has become my release song that forces me out of my introverted musings. It is part of my daily routine as I drive to work. There is nothing magical about this specific song. It works for me — partially because it is easy to sing and remember the words. After some searching, I found that my release song is the tune from the chorus in the song “Amen” — a version by Lee Greenwood can be found online. I am not a deeply religious person and do not attend church, so the topic is not the draw for me. The song is meaningful for me due to the emotional way it came to me and because it works.

I encourage everyone, especially introverts, to find a song that helps them find their voice, push stress out and and makes them feel strong, centered, and calm. Sing out loud. Sing it strong. What is your release song?