Wash The College Stress Away… With Music!
Written by Alex Sauceda on August 8, 2023
Well, here we are again, guys. It’s that special time of the year, nestled weeks before Labor Day, towards the “end” of summer. Yep, that’s right. It’s back-to-school season at UH and beyond.
The back-to-school season should be a fun and exciting time for students. Naturally, as the years melt away and students get older, taller, and smellier, moving up the educational and social ladders, the stakes get higher and more stressful. Suddenly, everything looks so scary and confusing from high above, as the ladder, flimsy, sways and dances underneath. And just like that, the back-to-school season transforms into a stress season for every party involved.
Shapes and colors turn into basic math, grammar, and fun science experiments, which then transition into the harder stuff. Similarly, toys in the mouth and finger foods turn into sharing is caring, sleepovers, and camp, directly into awkward fear and anxiety mixed with carnal desires, along with what is arguably the one thing the big man above got wrong, our propensity to do stupid bleep, for absolutely no reason at all. We (d)evolve.
Elementary school stress, things like where you’ll post up during lunch and making sure your pants have the right amount of pleats deemed acceptable by the movers and shakers of the playground, eventually grow into College stress; when everyone’s educational journeys hit puberty at the same damn time, the stress now heavier, more complicated, and much harder to deal with.
For college students, the sudden thrust into adulthood can be terrifying. This fear often manifests as stress, anxiety, and depression, each one plopping right below the left ribcage, lower back, or maybe even right above the eyes. Part of the process is being able to manage those abstractions in healthy and productive ways, which as we all know is easier said than done.
Several methods exist but music, making it, or even just listening, is one of the best and sharpest tools at our disposal, and should be on the first line of defense when dealing with the weird stress that comes with that sweet four-year degree.
Stress is the number one thing that many students cite as an impediment to their success makes perfect sense. Imagine being considered a “kid” for seventeen years, a state of existence where your laundry somehow gets done without you doing it, and the pizza rolls and favorite gogurt flavor, strawberry-banana gang, magically restock themselves every weekend. Now imagine that same kid turning eighteen, graduating high school, and getting shipped off to college two states over.
Real-life situations can be daunting to even the most weathered old heads, much less a doe-eyed freshman with zero life skills who now has to figure out the nuances of scrambled eggs. Couple that with tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, assignments, midterms, final exams, fifteen-page essays, and the sudden urge to bleep everything that moves, and you can see why this pivotal and crucial moment in time for so many, where their two worlds collide, is the perfect breeding ground for anxiety and stress.
Objectively, college is a harsh transition into the real world, our broken society’s version of “sink or swim.” And sadly, some students do sink, as the International Journal of Workplace Health Management confirms that many college students use drugs as alcohol, or worse, as a way to deal with their sudden spike in stress, which can lead to a life of dependency or no life at all.
So to all my fellow cougars and anyone else out there who might need to read this, whenever you feel that stress creep up the back of your neck, don’t reach into the fridge for another quick fix of empty calories and dead brain cells, instead, take a deep breath and reach for your phone, tv remote, or the keyboard that you’ve spent the night hovered over, and search up your favorite music. Then just sit, stand, or lay there, and listen. Let the dulcet tones of SZA, Peso Pluma, or The Weeknd, wash the stress away.
If you already use music as a way to quell the dark thoughts in your head, good on you, may this serve as a reminder. For the rest of us out there, welcome. Music is profound, universal, and maybe even the one true language of the world. It has the power to bring people closer together, or further apart. The right tune triggers some of us to shake and shimmy on the dance floor, others to stand angrily with arms crossed and headbang along, and others to lightly tap a finger or foot in observance and appreciation for the art.
Music can also make us more empathetic, help us focus, and even has the power to heal a broken heart. In fact, there are entire psychological systems, backed by actual doctors and scientists (not just some Coog Radio writer), that use music as a way to treat those who suffer from anxiety, depression, or the inability to express feelings. Studies also show that playing music in the background of some college classrooms can help relieve the stress of students. How ’bout that! Researchers from Stanford University have even equated music and medication in terms of being able to change our brain function, allowing our mind and body to slip into a mode of relaxation more easily.
But curating a playlist to help take the edge off is no easy task, and stressful in it of itself. To those who are unsure where to start or just want others to do the heavy lifting, say less. Coog Radio is here with open arms, impeccable music taste, and always smells nice. Not only that, radio forces listeners to let go of the aux cord, allowing music professionals to feed you the best sounds around.
With a lineup that includes, among others: Lapsed Radio, a show that highlights some of the best in hip hop, alternative R&B, and electronica, or The Emo Factory, for those of us who it wasn’t merely a phase, but a lifestyle, or a show called What I’m Obsessed With, which I’m not at liberty to even talk about, much less write about it on the internet, so you’ll just have to tune in to find out what host Isha Merchant is cookin’ up each week.
Did I mention that Coog Radio is absolutely free to listen to and requires no affiliation with the actual University? That’s right, anyone can listen to Coog Radio on our website, which has a 24/7 music stream for all the night owls who need it.
For students who need something stronger, a heavier dose of music to help with that school and life stress, a live concert is your best bet. If you’re a fellow cougar living on campus, or a fellow human who lives in Houston, there are several live music options from which to choose, and many of them are free of charge! What’s more stress-free than free, am I right?
Wonky Power based in Houston’s East End is a music agency owned and operated by music producers Elizabeth S. Rodriguez and Mario A. Rodriguez, who both believe that music can be an “agent for positive change.” Wonky Power curates shows all over the city, teaming up with other Houston institutions like Axelrad and 8th Wonder Brewery to give the public great live music, almost daily. You can also head over to Wonky Power Live, which is minutes away from the UH campus, for a live show. Apart from a venue, it also serves as a recording studio and creative space for emerging artists to hone their craft.
And just in time for back-to-school/stress season, Wonky Power Live will host the East End Open Mic every Thursday for those out there who need some live music in their life. These are not your traditional concerts, instead, WP provides a full stage with professional live sound production, a drum kit, guitar and bass amps, mics, and even lighting, for musicians to perform live on stage, in front of an actual audience. Neat! Each open mic night will have a specific theme, including a Nirvana/Foo Fighters night and a Red Hot Chili Peppers night so plan accordingly. The first East End Open Mic this month kicks off Thursday, August 3rd at 8 p.m., with a night celebrating The Strokes!
Again, college is a stressful endeavor. We get it. It’s meant to test us physically, emotionally, and intellectually, otherwise how else are those companies going to know you can hack it on the sales floor or boardroom. The stress and anxiety from these college years can be draining, sure, but as noted above, there are ways to refill those heart containers that don’t require alcohol or drugs; only a Bluetooth speaker, maybe, a solid pair of headphones, or a ride to a local concert.
So the next time you find yourself stressing over your class schedule, which student organizations to join, or whether or not that cover letter is up to par, take a few minutes to listen to that artist your friend mentioned, or that band you heard on Coog Radio. It’s okay, no one will judge you for taking a break. All of those hurdles will still be there waiting for you after your deep dive into deep house, except now you’ll be able to clear them easily, your mind and body now fortified with the powerful and universal language of music.