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Your Feel-Good Playlist for Those Tough Nursing Days


“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” — Bob Marley

Bob Marley was on to something. Music can be effective as a non-pharmacologic pain intervention. It can also decrease anxiety and improve mood. Research suggests that dopaminergic pleasure centers of the brain are trigged as we listen to music, and that music can induce euphoria.

So if you’ve had one of those terrible days — the kind for the record books — delving into a happy playlist can transport you to a blissful, stress-free zone. Give these songs a try. Some have beautiful melodies, some have uplifting lyrics, some have a beat that makes you feel fearless.

What songs help lift your spirits? What do you listen to after a bad day to feel better?

41 Comments Post a comment
  1. Stella #

    we enjoy Fridays with Frank (Sinatra- Of course) my personal favorite is fly me to the moon

    July 23, 2013
  2. Doriane #

    I work in a preop and recovery clinic for Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology procedures. The patients are usually nervous and have concerns about their procedure. We bring in soft music CD’s as therapy to help calm and sooth the patients. However, as a added bonus, it calms and sooths the staff.

    July 22, 2013
  3. Hi Meaghan, thanks for sharing this blog. Ya, music is a good solution for any stress. Great job done. Awaiting for more posts like this.

    July 22, 2013
  4. Diana #

    True, Music is a stress buster after a day at work but talking to others about the dark side of our profession is noteworthy too!

    July 22, 2013
  5. Love Enya also

    July 21, 2013
  6. Julie #

    Mary/Mary. Gets me revived for my night shift.

    July 21, 2013
  7. Susan #

    I love to hear I can see clearly now the rain is gone.

    July 21, 2013
  8. Penney #

    On bad days I listen to Bachata & salsa and before I know I’m up dancing . Dancing is really good for stress relief plus doubles for exercise too.

    July 20, 2013
  9. Oh I love Mandisa!!!! “Good Morning” is a great one..I like the Tenors, Gaithers, Ernie Hause and /signature oh I love music. This is a great Idea…thanks you.

    July 19, 2013
  10. Rose Cooper #

    From Rose Cooper

    I enjoy exercise after those bad days. Maybe not after work but surely in the morning of my first day off. I like to run, do yoga, bike, and aerobics. I also love music. I sing in a choir and play the piano. Reading is a good friend too.

    Let’s all be supportive of each other and the bad days won’t be so bad.

    July 18, 2013
  11. Sherri Mendelson #

    I love this site. Your refeence to the science of music for dopamine regulation is very “professional nursing”. A good combo of Paul Anka, Dionne Warwick Train and Maroon 5 meets all moods and needs!

    July 18, 2013
  12. Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

    Awesome suggestions everybody!. I like the book idea and movie soundtracks are a great idea!

    July 16, 2013
  13. Holly #

    I love this blog and will be paying attention to your list of music. I think this list will also be useful in the school setting that I work in (high school). I have always felt the power of music not only for stress and enjoyment but as a tool to help me focus when writing papers for college. I find classical & Josh Groban, and The Tenors to be my favorites. Thank you for the references on music therapy.

    July 16, 2013
  14. Lynn #

    Titanium is what all nurses are made of. We have to be. What else gets us through all the nonsense.

    July 15, 2013
    • Heidi #

      Well said Lynn and OH SO TRUE!!

      July 19, 2013
    • Terri #

      Couldn’t have said it better Lynn! I am right there with you on that! Cant help turning that song way up & singing (or screaming some days) to the lyrics.

      July 22, 2013
  15. Hi Meghan I would love to start a beuty blog for cancer patients how did you start this blog. Thank you

    July 15, 2013
  16. Shea #

    I love all those suggested. But, lately it’s been the sound of jazz music that takes me away.

    July 14, 2013
  17. Jill #

    Thanks! Just downloaded a few:) They will be used!

    July 13, 2013
  18. Deb #

    I,too, love Peter White, Enya, and soothing sounds from saxman, Kenny G.Those days where the noise level and craziness needs soothing sounds. For upbeat music, love Maroon 5, Train, and Michael Buble.

    July 12, 2013
  19. Music is the universal language that can reach the deep place of our hearts.. Love this.

    July 12, 2013
  20. try the U tube version of Amazing Grace by Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill

    July 12, 2013
  21. Geraldine Bachanes #

    Burt Bacarack does it for me

    July 12, 2013
  22. Susan Stack #

    sorry, three little BIRDS

    July 11, 2013
  23. Susan Stack #

    Almost anything by Jimmy Buffet

    July 11, 2013
  24. Doris A McCoy #

    I like George Winston. Slows me down without being too slow

    June 25, 2013
  25. Michael T #

    Bob Marley anytime. Jah live!

    June 25, 2013
  26. Richard #

    My “go-to” relaxation play list – Norah Jones, Iron and Wine’s first album, and Sigur Ros’. -Cheers from Austin.

    June 24, 2013
  27. NsChuck #

    NsChuck: For recovery, restoration, and rejuvenation from those challenging days/nights, I listen to hymns and choruses, esp. Maranatha music. Classical music on my TV music channels can also fill the house and bring joy & peace within, along with some renewed energy. Like, June, I also like to combine a little cinema therapy with music therapy by watching some great movies with great music. (Sleeping in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Funny Girl, lots of others.) Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorite therapeutic tools.

    June 24, 2013
  28. Midge Elkins #

    Hello All:
    I am a nursing director and just saw this blog. This is wonderful and I am so glad the direct-care nurses have somewhere to go to get ideas of how to care for themselves and their well-being. Congrats to the originator of this blog, it has been needed for a long time.

    June 24, 2013
  29. cassie #

    There is a gospel cd at the facility where I work. I usslly put that in and the first song is Amazing Grace. ..calming.

    June 23, 2013
  30. Cynthia #

    Enya, anytime I need to de-stress! <3

    June 23, 2013
  31. Cynthia Rice #

    Enya, anytime I need to distress!

    June 23, 2013
  32. Mary #

    I love hearing Mandisa’s Goodmorning song on my way to work! It starts my day off right and gets me in the right frame of mind for another day of parents and shots :-)

    June 23, 2013
    • Marmie #

      I love that Mandisa song, too! So upbeat! Anything on K-Love!!

      Also, for relaxing, Diana Krall songs or Madeleine Peyroux…

      July 16, 2013
  33. I love music too. It frees my soul to feel my day. I can emote and reflex on what I did well or what I could have done better without judegement.Mary Mary is one of my favs.

    June 23, 2013
  34. ? #

    Grateful Dead

    June 23, 2013
  35. Gwen #

    For bad days I listen to the Caravan of Dreams CD by Peter White, for Really Bad days I listen to comedy by Jeanne Robertson to have something distracting on and help me laugh when i need to but truthfully, anything by Peter can help you get through most anything- He’s That Good…..

    June 23, 2013
  36. June #

    For bad days,I will listen to Yanni or soundtracks of beloved movies..soothing, happy background music to fill the house..
    For those days I want to forget or just submerge into something different, I listen to one of the books I keep on my iPod…there are a few books I can always “read” over.

    June 20, 2013

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