When I’m in the car – especially for a long time – at some point I’ll start thinking about junk food. My thoughts about food are not usually related to being bodily hungry, but tend to related to feelings. Negative feelings (anxiety, anger, etc.) can certainly provoke me to want to do something to soothe them. (We’ve all heard the phrase ‘comfort food,’ right?) But the most frequent food-mood for me is boredom. Maybe driving by the ‘golden arches’ puts the idea in my head, but I think that even without visual cues, my mind wanders in the direction of food often. The reason I’m sharing my personal experience is because I suspect it is similar to other people’s experience, either with eating, or smoking, or some other behavior.
Over the weekend I started using a music service and installed an app on my smartphone. (There are plenty of them and I’m not advertising for any of them.) When I get into the car, my smartphone connects to my car’s audio system and music becomes an automotive automatic! A couple settings on my phone and this new, healthy habit is now much more likely to happen.
When I choose to listen to albums that I own, I can listen to them in the order they appear on the album or in random order. Choosing random order or shuffle seems to be more effective, probably because some part of my brain starts feeling curious about what’s coming next. The busier my brain is listening to music, trying to recall lyrics, or trying to remember the video that goes with the song, the less likely my brain is to start feeling like self-soothing or self-stimulating. (Eating and smoking can do both, right?) Come to think of it, random or shuffle might be better for self-stimulation (beating boredom) and album order’s predictability may be more soothing.
I find myself marveling over and over again about how music has the power to shift my mood. I hope that you’ll take a look at how more music might be beneficial to you. And if you can find ways to habituate the use of music (sync car’s Bluetooth to your phone, keeping your earbuds in the same place as your car keys or water bottle or some other ‘always-have’ item) you’re on your way. As always, thank you for taking good care of you.