I thought nothing would help my anxiety until I discovered DJing

I’ve always been a human being.

Public speaking, social occasions, going to events alone was never a problem for me – even as a teenager I made friends beyond the classroom by getting out there and throwing myself into things; Find communities with like-minded people.

It’s an approach I followed into adulthood and one that has helped me in my personal and professional life.

Until Covid struck.

Since the pandemic, I’ve found socializing and public spaces much more difficult. I don’t know what exactly caused it, but I worry about the seemingly small things, wonder what new people think of me, and impatient to leave events early to go home.

Even getting together with old friends for a date can make me nervous. It feels like my social battery is constantly draining.

I was at my wits end trying to get a grip on my anxiety and was feeling overwhelmed and confused by my constant worries when I found help in the most unlikely place – a DJ set.

From a random hobby to looking for work and a partner, I really couldn’t live without my decks and software right now.

I was surprised when I first started feeling anxious as lockdowns eased; I got hot and cold everywhere when I met new people and I couldn’t concentrate.

Determined to beat this nasty invader in my brain, I tried everything. I tried every suggestion, every tip, everything that could help.

From making a conscious effort to check in with my friends and family, to self-help books that say “being present” is the answer to all my problems, and engaging in solo dates that are outside of my comfort zone lie.

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I went to the doctor and ended up being prescribed anti-anxiety medication. But nothing seemed to help.

I figured it would help to try a hobby unrelated to things I’m usually inclined to – like new gym classes – and activities that dominate my everyday life – like reading and writing.

So in September 2021, inspired by my lifelong love of music, I bought a set of beginner decks and started DJing.

Growing up, music was always my primary coping mechanism when home or school wasn’t a happy place, and the thought of being able to create my own mixes that I could listen to while I worked, walked, or wrote excited me.

I played the clarinet as a kid, grew up in a house where my dad’s records were constantly spinning, and even winged my way through the choir despite a terrible singing voice, but mixing music was never something that crossed my mind , until my fear has made a gear.

Adele Walton, a young woman, with headphones at a DJ booth

Within an hour of playing around with my entry decks I was hooked (Image: Adele Walton)

I bought a starter kit – my decks (the Pioneer CDJ 200s) and a monthly subscription to the Rekordbox software that you use to mix your songs.

Now all I had to do was download my favorite tracks and watch some YouTube tutorials.

I put together a playlist of music from some of the DJs I love – Kabza De Small, Prince Kaybee, Kaytranada to name a few – and got going.

Even loading a melody onto the decks and being able to manipulate the volume of the different levels was a whole new sensory experience that filled me with joy.

Within an hour of playing around with my starter decks, I was hooked.

While I may not have been a natural – and perfecting my mixing skills is an ongoing process – mixing two songs I loved and hearing the subtle changes in the tones of the music was a transcendental experience.

That was the beginning of my love for DJing.

This love story is actually no surprise. Music is known to affect the amount of stress hormones in your body. Reducing these may mean my anxiety symptoms are less severe.

By reaching for my decks whenever I’m feeling a little down or anxious, the experience of working with my favorite music becomes a healing practice.

As the music flows through my body, it allows me to be fully present without distractions in an activity I love. DJing offers me a creative form of escape from the thoughts running through my head.

Not only that, making music has become an enormously social activity for me; Helping to deal with the social anxiety that has emerged during the pandemic.

By attending events in person that play the genres I love, I’ve connected with DJs I look up to, found new communities online, and even interviewed one of my favorite Amapiano DJs for a recent article.

Knowing that I have something I’m passionate about talking about with strangers has also taken a lot of nerve from interacting with new people.

I even met my partner through DJing; We crossed paths through our love of music online and ended up having our first date at Pirate Studios where he helped me manage my transitions on the decks.

Adele Walton and her partner wear scarves outside at a DJ event.

I even met my partner through DJ-ing (Image: Adele Walton)

Together we recently hosted our first event in Brighton where our friends came to support and enjoy our work in a large group.

I’ve met great artists who mix the genres I love – amapiano and afro house – that allow me to make more space in my life for social events that don’t scare me.

Since learning this new hobby, I’ve now been performing in bars and even a club to large crowds I don’t know, something I wouldn’t have thought possible a few years ago.

I was blown away by the positive response, the way DJing brings strangers together on the dance floor with others you’ve never met to express their gratitude for the music you played during a set.

I used to be afraid of performing publicly, but now I’m most comfortable behind the decks.

When I’m there I feel safe. When I’m working at an event, I don’t worry about people’s perception because playing my music brings strangers together.

Now whenever I DJ, be it at home, at an event or in a studio, I get into a euphoric state that allows me to blast away all the daily mental noise with ease.

DJing for me is a solitude activity that (for a change) doesn’t make me tired of my own thoughts.

Learning to DJ was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I met the love of my life while immersing myself in a new hobby that has brought me joy and even given me a chance to make money from performing.

And my mental well-being is better than it was before the pandemic.

The technology I can’t live without

Welcome to The Tech I Can’t Live Without, Metro.co.uk’s new weekly series in which readers share the piece of gear that has proved indispensable to them.

From gadgets to software, apps, and websites, you’ll read about all kinds of innovations that people can really count on. Part of the series

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/29/i-thought-nothing-would-help-with-my-anxiety-until-i-discovered-dj-ing-18170038/ I thought nothing would help my anxiety until I discovered DJing

Justin Scacco

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