Mental Health

The Earworm Effect: 7 Things You Need to Look Out For

Have you ever found yourself humming a tune? Or have you ever been stuck with a continuous thought in your mind? Most importantly, ever found yourself singing a song in your head?

Of course, you have! No one can say they haven’t. This is called the earworm effect, and its persistent occurrence can prove extremely harmful to the brain!

Is the earworm effect real?

Earworm is a cogitation relating to psychological distress and is mostly characterized by repetitive, obsessive thoughts. In simple terms, though, you may be able to relate it with a song or tune stuck in an endless loop in your mind.

Your anxious brain clings to a recurring thought and refuses to let it go. For songs, it can be said that an attractive or catchy melody compels you to think about it repetitively.

How does an earworm victimize your mind?

Earworms, also called brain worms, are attractive or unforgettable music or proverb which continue to occupy a person’s brain. They are similar to a constant whisper in your ear, hence the name earworms.

They tend to stick to your mind without any external force unconsciously.

Anything can cause an earworm; some of the reasons are given below:

When do you come in contact with an earworm?

  • Being upset may cause you to overthink the cause of your sadness and may result in that thought becoming an earworm
  • A specific place or event may become a trigger for a thought or song. For example, having a bad experience at a certain place or in the presence of a song in the background.
  • Listening to a catchy song for the first time may cause you to adopt it as an earworm.
  • An unoccupied mind tends to be more prone to earworms.

7 things that you can do to prevent Earworms

1. Chewing gum

Chewing gum is a joint movement action, which destroys the perception of an obtrusive thought. In other words, chewing gum interferes with the process of autonomous memory. Thus, it acts as an effective way to shut down any earworms.

Moreover, chewing gum does not increase thinking; it just takes over the same mental track occupied by the earworm. Chewing can improve brain processes, such as memory, concentration, stress relief, self-control, hunger, and emotions.

2. Solving Word Puzzles

Anagrams, crosswords, and other word-based puzzle games are a great way to help you get rid of annoying earworms, plus they are good for the brain too!

Staying focused on solving puzzles cancels out the pestering earworms. Research states that the reason it works is that word puzzles occupy your mind and destroy the voice loop caused by the earworm.

3. Reading or Praying

Worrying about earworms is normal; they are quite like an annoying itch you cannot scratch. Relaxing activities such as reading are one way to dispel earworms.

How is reading so effective? The answer is simple! Reading is a great way to divert a person’s mind.

Spiritual prayer is also an extremely effective way to deal with unwanted earworms, especially annoying thoughts that may be causing you to question yourself.

4. Therapeutic Songs

To suppress their earworms, some people turn towards competing songs. Competing songs, also referred to as ‘healing tunes’, are designed to calm the mind and stop earworms to a certain degree.

In most cases, therapeutic songs can suppress earworms and have an extremely low chance of turning into earworms themselves.

5. Listening to the Entire Song

Small musical bits that repeat themselves also act as earworms. When it comes to these musical sorts of earworms, the most successful strategy is simply listening to the entire song.

With the extensive data available online, searching up lyric fragments can easily find you the song. So, listen to the whole song to stop humming that catchy, annoying tune!

Another tip is to immediately listen to another song after listening to a potential earworm-causing tune.

6. Talking to people

When you are irritated by earworms, start talking to people. You can talk about politics or your favorite movies, perhaps about the game that happened last week? Anything would do; just get that mind occupied in the talks.

A long conversation is bound to eliminate that earworm since your brain will be busy processing the recent conversation.

7. Meditation

For centuries, meditation has been used to purify and free the brain. There is no need to light some soothing candles or sit in a proper meditation position; just sit well and let your thoughts come and go in your mind without interacting with them.

Even 10 minutes of this would be enough to tackle any persistent or bothersome earworms. Try to filter out the pesky thoughts while thinking about other things.

Pro Tip: Ignore it!

Although earworms are unconscious and obtrusive, research shows that some people do not feel them at all. If you feel the same way, do not do anything.

A small number of earworms disrupt normal day-to-day work, while other studies have found a relationship between earworms and happiness before and after hearing inner sounds.

Another study showed that tunes that are liked are more likely to become earworms than tunes that are disliked.

Moreover, earworms do not last long in most people’s ears. If your internal soundtrack is what you like, then lie down quietly and enjoy the moment.


Approximately 90% of people get earworms once a week, and a quarter of people get them multiple times a day. The hypothesis states that a mixture of all the aforementioned strategies may apply to people who suffer from the earworm effect.

So, if you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed by the earworms, pick up a pen and start solving a crossword puzzle while actively chewing a bubble gum. When your mood improves, it will be easier for you to adjust your way of thinking.

You can check this site or this blog for further details on earworms.

Try not to take earworms seriously because the sooner your mind is relaxed, the sooner you will get rid of them!


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