Reducing Stress Using Sound During Covid-19

Resources and information about ways to cope during a pandemic are abundant right now so what is different about this blog? As Therapeutic Sound workers we have access to some specific tools that others may not and having worked in therapeutic and clinical settings for over 30 years, I have seen that many of us are great at looking after others, but do we take enough time to look after ourselves?

The questions I’d like to address in this blog are –

Are we taking our own medicine?
Are we being gentle with ourselves?
Are we taking care of our physical, psychological and emotional needs?
Are we using our tools for self-care?

Here are some tips for self-care that many of you may have in your tool kit already – but have perhaps not used for yourself lately.

By checking in with ourselves regularly we can lower our stress, feel less overwhelmed and become more grounded. Reflection is so important.

Years ago I attended a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh and saw the monks and nuns pausing each time they heard the bell. Hearing chimes or bells are now a way of calling me to gently check-in to what gives me energy in this present moment.

Tip: set your phone to chime a bell or place a bell, gong or bowl in your eye-line to remind you to take time to go within and reflect on how you are feeling in that moment.

Exploring resistance. There is no shortage of issues to exhaust our reserves, trigger us and augment our stress. Trying to find the ‘next most important thing’ that needs our attention can be a frustration when everything seems to be on fire. Surrendering to any and everything that is ‘ablaze’ and is making the most noise in our lives can lead to burnout. Comparing ourselves to others can drain us. Being reluctant to make changes as the world changes can leave us feeling left behind.

Tip: Taking time to breathe and calm down in this present moment can be a balm for our weary souls. For example – From a place of stillness – breathe in peace and breathe out love. Tuning your breath on a mantra – Ya She Fee, Ya Ca Fee includes vowels and consonants in a soothing combination to focus on inner harmony.

Creating a release. Using our instruments is a strategy that we all have within our kits. With something as simple as a phone recording app – we can create and record our own individual sound baths and then use headphones to self-soothe whenever needed. This is a highly personal gift we can give ourselves. There is great potential for release and for healing to begin as we share this gently with ourselves. This type of gentle release allows for the light to come in and for our lives to move forward. The tears, laughter, calm, deep breath, feeling of oneness are made possible when we take our own medicine.

Tip: Do some vocal techniques to let off steam. For example, Scat on consonant and vowel combinations – letting your inner child play with the sound. Dada, dede, bidobido, toootoootooo with trills on r for the fun of it. Wish I could share what that sounds like – You try now!

Taking responsibility. For client-centered approaches, this point may be obvious, but yes – the only person we can save is ourselves. So by gently checking in with ourselves, we know if binge behavior has become a block rather than a rare treat. Falling into a 24-hour news cycle, being unable to stop watching the series until the whole thing is completed, and then feeling guilty about it – is fairly common.

Tip: For the longest time, I had trouble with the concept of using affirmations. For over 20 years I resisted the idea of using them. While pregnant with my daughter I uncovered the secret that had eluded me. Affirmations need to come from you. They need to be yours. Using something created by someone else never fit – because it was not mine. Create an honest affirmation of your own. The one I eventually arrived at was – I am healing, healthy and whole. It works for me – but truly – find one that is yours and then use it to break the endless loop of worries, fears and anxiety.

It also helps to remember that during these unprecedented times – anxiety is not being weak. Anxiety comes from trying to be strong for too long. Self-care is essential to our survival. Most importantly – remember that you are not alone. The ITSA board and membership are a responsive body that helps to support you in these times. Our door is open. Be gentle with yourselves and watch for panel discussions, blogs and more information about living well during these extraordinary times.

Peace and Light,

Andrea Lowry MA, MT, CP