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Almost everyone gets songs stuck in their head once in awhile. Called “earworms” or “brainworms,” these can be pleasant and relaxing, or a nightmare. Read on to find out how to get that pesky song processed and out of your head. Distracting Yourself CHEW GUM. For many people, chewing gum seems to interfere with the ability to “hear” the music in their head. This may also help you ignore the song during the next step.

LET YOUR MIND WANDER. One study showed that fighting the song often leads to more frequent, longer episodes later. Try to ignore the tune while you think about something else. This isn’t always possible, but spend a few minutes trying.

SOLVE WORD PUZZLES. Anagrams, crossword puzzles and other word-based puzzles can help drive the song away. Thinking about words occupies the same area of your brain that plays the imagined lyrics. Stay focused, and your brain might only be able to stick to one of the two tasks. If you notice no difference and feel yourself getting frustrated, stop. Occasionally, an earworm can get worse if you try to fight it. Distract yourself with a calm verbal activity. A relaxing activity may work best if you feel anxious about the earworm, or are worried you can’t control it.

Here are a few options that occupy the listening and speech centers of your brain:

• Recite something or read aloud

• Hold a conversation

• Meditate

• Pray

• Read a book

• Watch television

• Play a video game that includes speech and/or textListen to a musical “cure.” Always choose a song that you enjoy, just in case it replaces the one in your head! If you hate the idea of listening to these songs, read on for advice on fi nding your own.

SING ALONG TO A LESS FAMILIAR SONG. Start with a song that’s less likely to get in your head. Avoid “catchy” tunes, and ideally look for something you’ve only listened to once or twice before. The harder it is to sing along to, the less likely it is to stick.

SING ALONG TO A SONG YOU KNOW WELL. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big guns. This cure will often get stuck in your head instead, but hopefully if that happens, it will be more pleasant.

• Songs you know well, especially ones associated with nostalgia or a specifi c memory.

• Songs that are easy to sing along to. These tend to have notes with long durations, and small changes in pitch. Most pop songs fi t this description.

• Songs with repetition. These include nursery rhymes, songs with repetitive choruses, and, again, most pop songs.

DO MATH PROBLEMS. You A problem that’s too diffi cult something that’s within your range of ability.


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