Music Mood Board: Songs to Play When Your Anxious Thoughts Become Too Overwhelming

You know those people who can't seem to turn their minds off? People who spend practically every hour of every day swimming in anxious thoughts? People who put extra pressure on themselves to be everything for everyone? (*Raises hand*) Well, that's me. It's a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it keeps me motivated and self-aware. On the other hand, it means that I'll be on a long, never-ending journey of fulfilling my life's purpose.

As much as I want to stop being so hard on myself, I worry that if I'm not ceaselessly endeavoring to better myself and make a difference in the world — in small or large ways — then I'll lose that passion and fall short of the dreams that I've always envisioned for myself. Ambition can be a labyrinth: it drives you to succeed, but it almost nullifies that success by reminding you that what you achieve will never be good enough because there's always more to accomplish. There's an added weight to your words, thoughts, and actions that makes everything feel like a high-stakes situation.

If that sounds exhausting, that's because it is. But it's how I'm wired, and I've accepted it. That being said, it's something that I'm continuously learning how to manage. Anxiety and ambition aren't synonymous, so I've been figuring out ways to focus on the latter without succumbing as much to the former. For this week's Music Mood Board, I'm highlighting three songs that I've been playing whenever I feel myself giving in to a restless mind and overwhelming thoughts. Listen to them ahead.

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"Exhale" by Sabrina Carpenter

When I first heard this track after Carpenter dropped her album Singular: Act II last year, it felt like she took the words from my journal and made them into a song. Although we're dealing with very different stressors (I'll never understand the strains of being in the spotlight), we both get in our heads about everything going on in our lives and feel a responsibility to always be on top of our game. But, as the airy tune emphasizes, sometimes we just need to take a moment to breathe.

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"Don't Forget to Breathe" by Stormzy feat. Yebba

If I didn't know any better, I'd think Stormzy and Yebba made this track specially for me. "You just chase your dreams / You don't even take the time to sleep / But don't forget to breathe, don't forget to breathe," they softly croon. Just @ me, guys.

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"Circles" by Mac Miller

Mac Miller's Circles is still one of my top favorite albums from this year. The soul-baring project from the late rapper beautifully details the pains of being your own worst enemy, having insatiable longings to really be somebody, and pressuring yourself to always contribute something of value to the world. But there's one simple lyric that always calms me: "Don't you put any more stress on yourself, it's one day at a time."