21 Songs to Listen to When Chronic Illness Is Kicking Your Butt
It’s perfectly normal to have a days that are hard to manage. When you live with chronic illness, hard days can sometimes really pack an extra punch.
Maybe you’re dealing with “fibro fog” that’s making it difficult to concentrate on tasks, or you’re having a pain flare that’s keeping you in bed for most of the day. Or maybe your illness has left you feeling fatigued and you feel like you can’t recharge your batteries no matter what you do. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re not alone.
On days where chronic illness is kicking your butt, you might feel a bit more “down” than usual, and it’s OK if that happens. While you may not feel up to doing a full self-care routine, listening to music is something you can do while you’re lying down in bed or on the couch.
That’s why we asked members of our Mighty chronic illness community to share one song that resonates with them when they’re having a hard day with their illness. Music may not be able to cure you of your illness, but it might help lift your mood and make the tough symptom days feel more bearable.
Related: How I Stopped Letting Work Define My Worth After My Chronic Illness Diagnosis
Here are the songs our community members shared with us:
1. ‘Warrior’ by Clare Bowen
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“‘Warrior’ by Clare Bowen. ‘I know you woke up tired and you went to bed afraid, I hear you praying for an answer, you’ve got a fire that burns through the rain you’re a light that just won’t fade.’ It’s a beautiful song and singing along makes me feel better.” — Sarah C.
2. ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ by Horatio Spafford
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“‘It Is Well With My Soul’ is my absolute favorite. The lyrics were written by a man who literally lost everything (house fire, children and wife died in a ship drowning, etc). The lyrics resonate so perfectly, ‘Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.’ The melody is beautiful and relaxing, and in some versions, you can hear amazing harmony in the chorus. Basically, it is a prayer to remember to keep going and find peace in your situation, no matter what it is. I even have a painting in my living room for me to see every day.” — Brandi S.
3. ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams
“I love the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. I’m not in as much physical or mental pain after I hear it. It may be helping my brain release endorphins.” — Elsie G.
4. ‘Brave’ by Idina Menzel
“‘Brave’ by Idina Menzel. ‘I might be afraid but it’s my turn to be brave.’ [Also] ‘This Is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman.’ ‘And I know that I deserve your love, there’s nothing I’m not worthy of.’ It helps me to know I am not my illnesses and am not worthless.” — Lindsey C.
5. ‘Who We Really Are’ by LeAnn Rimes
“‘Who We Really Are’ by LeAnn Rimes is one of my top choices. Singing and music has always been the best therapy getting through hard times, physically and emotionally.” — Amelia C.
6. ‘Change’ by Blind Melon
“Blind Melon’s ‘Change.’ Very fitting for us all, give it a whirl. Very uplifting tune and very bang-on lyrics.” — Emma J.
7. ‘Walking On Sunshine’ by Katrina & The Waves
“‘Walking On Sunshine’ by Katrina & The Waves — I don’t know how anyone could listen to this song and not be happy afterward!” — Nancy A.
8. ‘Rise Up’ Andra Day
“‘Rise Up’ by Andra Day, but honestly anything upbeat helps me get through the day and lifts my mood.” — Natalie L.
“‘Rise Up’ by Andra Day. I came across it by accident when I was having a rough day health-wise and it’s stuck with me ever since.” — Emma P.
9. ‘Keep Your Eyes Open’ by NEEDTOBREATHE
“‘Keep Your Eyes Open’ by NEEDTOBREATHE. They have quite a few songs that have got me through some pretty dark times but this one especially, when you really listen to the lyrics just hit you to your core.” — Kirsten M.
10. ‘She Used To Be Mine’ by Sara Bareilles
“‘She Used To Be Mine’ by Sara Bareilles… This resonates so deeply with me on the days I am grieving the life I had, the life I thought I would live, the person I thought I would be. This grief comes and goes in waves sometimes and listening to this makes me feel understood.” — Brittany R.
11. ‘Shake It Out’ by Florence + The Machine
“‘Shake It Out’ by Florence + The Machine. It helps me let go of things I can’t change.” — Jill T.
12. ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ by Cage The Elephant
“‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ by Cage The Elephant. There is always going to be stuff I have to do and it keeps me going as hard as I can for as long as I can.” — April R.
13. ‘Breathe’ by Backstreet Boys
“‘Breathe’ by the Backstreet Boys. I had Nick Carter write ‘breathe’ on my arm where I️ get my IVs and got it tattooed on me.” — Alana H.
14. ‘My Name Is Sam Hall’ by Johnny Cash
“‘My Name Is Sam Hall’ sung by Johnny Cash. I sing this under my breath when people offer advice like, ‘You’d be fine if you’d just stop eating gluten’ or ‘Maybe you’d feel better if you lost some weight.’ I hum this under my breath often to cheer myself up. Being tired and in pain lowers my tolerance for others.” — Debby R.
15. ‘Kitchen Sink’ by twenty one pilots
“‘Kitchen Sink,’ by twenty one pilots. ‘Are you searching for purpose? Then write something yeah, it might be worthless, then paint something then, it might be wordless. Pointless verses, nonsense curses, no one else is dealing with your demons meaning, maybe, defeating them will be the beginning of your meaning, friend.'” — Holly W.
16. ‘On Top Of The World’ by Imagine Dragons
“Imagine Dragons, ‘On Top Of The World.’ It cheers me up and reminds me to be positive.” — Dede E.
17. ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ by Carole King
“‘You’ve Got A Friend’ by Carole King. Anything upbeat by Pink.” — Lena K.
18. ‘Keep On Movin’ by Five
“‘Keep On Movin” by Five. Grounded but optimistic lyrics and a catchy, poppy sound. ‘Get on up when you’re down, take a good look around — I know it’s not much, but it’s OK, we keep on movin’ on anyway.'” — Kelly N.
19. ‘Fear’ by Blue October
“‘Fear’ by Blue October. Something in it just strikes a chord deep in my soul that reminds me of how far I’ve come and how strong I truly am.” — Kristin K.
20. ‘We Made It’ by Busta Rhymes feat. Linkin Park
“Busta Rhymes feat. Linkin Park — ‘We Made It.’ The lyrics are so powerful and fitting.” — Paula V.
21. ‘Grasses’ by Daughter of Swords
“‘Grasses’ by Daughter of Swords. She wrote it about her struggle with chronic illness and it helps during the ‘can’t get out of bed’ days.” — @alb33
We hope you enjoy these songs our community shared with us, and maybe these songs will inspire you to create your own playlist to distract yourself when chronic illness is kicking your butt. If you do create a playlist, you can go ahead and share it on The Mighty using the hashtags #DistractMe and #ChronicIllness.
Do you have a go-to song for when chronic illness makes your days hard that’s not on this list? Feel free to share it below in the comments!
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