I Changed One Thing About My Morning Routine, and My Anxiety Disappeared

Santa Monica Boulevard is a well-traversed thoroughfare that connects West Los Angeles with the upscale shops of Beverly Hills, the rainbow-streaked streets of West Hollywood, and the trendy eateries of Silver Lake. It also just so happens to be the bane of my existence. Like many Angelenos, I brave the pothole-ridden, construction-plagued road on my way to and from work, Monday through Friday. Despite what Sheryl Crow's bubbly lyrics led me to believe in my youth, this famed boulevard is far from carefree.

To sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Los Angeles is to observe the city at its worst: the shrill sound of car horns blaring, the exhaust fuming from the city bus, the dazed pedestrians—and me, in my 2009 Jetta, gripping the wheel, saying awful things about strangers from the comfort of my car that I'd never dream of saying to another human's face. That is until I stumbled upon an unlikely radio station that changed my outlook on my daily commute—KUSC, a Los Angeles–based classical music station.

Before this game-changing discovery, you could find me listening to politically charged podcasts that weren't exactly doing my mental health any favors. Although I ardently love Michael Barbaro, Jon Favreau, and Ira Glass, when my dial landed on 91.5 MHz FM, I suddenly realized that listening to their political commentary on my way to and from work hadn't been the best thing for my stress levels. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm still a loyal subscriber to The Daily, Pod Save America, and This American Life, but I simply don't tune into these pods while I'm driving anymore, which, honestly, has made all the difference.

Ahead, I'm sharing the science-backed research behind the calming effects of listening to classical music, the anxiety-reducing playlist I swear by, and the lasting effects of banning politically charged podcasts from the car for a month.