How music can support your well-being
Music plays a big part in our lives. It plays an especially big part in my life as my son is a working musician.
I also grew up in a household where there was music all the time. From an early age, I connected deeply with certain types of music and songs that enabled me to access and express difficult emotions, usually tears that I had kept pent up for far too long because in my household, crying was really not acceptable unless you were really injured-physically-not emotionally.
I used put headphones on late at night in my room when everyone was asleep and cry my eyes out to the saddest songs I could find! I always felt so much better afterward.
I believe that music can be an important part of wellbeing—and not just for accessing negative or sad emotions. Research suggests that music can stimulate the body’s natural feel good chemicals (e.g. endorphins, oxytocin). It can help energize our mood and provide an outlet for us to take control of our feelings. Music can even help us work through problems in our lives.
For example music can help us to:
- Manage stress
- Express feelings
- Enhance memory
- Improve communication
- Promote wellness
- Promote physical rehabilitation
- Alleviate pain (Did you know that focusing on music reduces your brain’s perception of pain?)
Listening to music is a popular way to cope with difficult times. For example, it can sometimes express how we are feeling or vent difficult thoughts and emotions for us. You may be able to relate to the music and find comfort from the words in a song.
To find out how music affects you, try and become aware of the effect certain songs, styles, artists have on you. Some music may allow you to sit with a mood, explore it, understand it, but not feel worse from doing so. Other music might help you change a mood, or set a new mood. This can be helpful if it helps you bring your mood/emotions to a more stable place.
To discover the effect music has on you, consider the following points:
- Does the music allow you to sit with a mood, change a mood or set a new mood?
- Does it make you feel better or worse?
- Is it helpful to feel worse? When does it stop being helpful? For example, rather than music having a calming effect on you, listening to it might make you feel more angry or anxious.
- When is it not helpful?
- Is it a certain style of music that is helpful or unhelpful or is it a certain artist or words in a song?
Listening to music doesn’t have to be the only way it can be helpful. Sometimes you may find singing or dancing along is the actual factor that has the positive effect. Try putting on some great songs to belt along to! Otherwise, you might try listening to live music, or actually writing and playing your own songs. The key is to become aware of how different music affects you. Actively and intentionally selecting and using your music can be a really helpful way to feel more in control of your feelings.
I have an old ipod with hundreds of songs on it. I always listen on “shuffle” and frequently hear songs that make me think of the challenge of break ups and divorce and the hope of new life.
So for summer fun, I am going to share some of that music with you. Let me know how it affects you! Here’s the first selection: