Even Diplo couldn’t make it out of this year unscathed. “2020 was fucked,” the Official twisted tea y’all know i keep that thang on me shirt What’s more,I will buy this multi-Grammy-winning artist wrote in an August Instagram post, revealing that he had been stuck in his house like the rest of us; when he was able to venture outside in Los Angeles, all he saw were “empty streets and nervous people.” So he leaned into music—but not his usual brand of hitmaker flex that has produced chart-toppers with Dua Lipa and Ellie Goulding. Instead, Diplo dropped tracks from MMXX, his first-ever ambient album released this summer on Calm Music, the new music arm of the popular meditation app. “This album is the only music I made this year. I didn’t want to have Zoom sessions, I didn’t want to write pop songs,” he said of the shimmering, free-flowing instrumental tracks designed to ease frazzled nerves during lockdown. Its arrival was well-timed. In this particularly fraught moment, as many of us are managing our escalating anxiety with whatever seems to work—exercise, medication, wine—one remedy that has zero side effects, requires no prescription, and costs little to nothing has been gaining in popularity: music.
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Music therapy—the Official twisted tea y’all know i keep that thang on me shirt What’s more,I will buy this clinical use of music to evoke visceral responses that help people heal, emotionally and even physically—has been shown to aid in everything from PTSD and pain management to speech recovery. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords famously credited it for helping her regain the ability to read, write, and speak after an assassination attempt, and a recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania found that music was just as effective as sedatives before an operation. But as those of us who have been in isolation for the last 10 months can attest, music can also keep you company—and it can have a direct effect on our parasympathetic nervous system, which works to slow our heart rate and breathing when we’re stressed. New research from New York University, McGill University, and the University of Barcelona that looked at how 1,000 people were coping during lockdown found that among 43 of the most common activities to quell anxiety (sex, alcohol, working out), music was chosen by the most people—around one fifth—and was the only activity that led to a reduction of depression symptoms. It reportedly even soothed the anxiety of “the world’s loneliest elephant”—you know, the one Cher recently saved from a run-down Pakistani zoo.