Music is an incredible tool to have in your arsenal when thinking about helping your mental health. There are many ways in which music can make you feel better and we are going to explore a few of those today.
Many of us turn to music, whether it is during tough times, or more brighter ones. Songs hold such deep meaning for many of us and because of that bond that we form with it, it can have a massive impact on our mood and indeed our mental health.
It’s a very healing, deeply personal relationship that we can have with music – think of the times that you have felt frustrated or angry and turned to music to work through some of it by dancing around, screaming the lyrics or just becoming absorbed with the melody. Sometimes when we are sad we can switch on the tunes and they speak to us, even if we’re sobbing, or suddenly feel excited and overjoyed when a certain song comes on, it lifts our mood.
There are many reasons why we have these responses to music, here are just a few…
Our memories are incredible things and at times extremely surprising. Songs, melodies, tunes, or musical scores can give our brain the instruction to pull out a memory that we may have had buried for years, not thought about or had no reason to recall. In doing that our entire mood can change for the better or likewise , worse.
The connection between the music and that memory reminds our brain of how we felt in that moment and it then replicates it. For me there is one song that if I hear it, it will boost my mood instantly, it reminds me of my mum and my little one. There is no particular reason why it does, but the instant I hear it I think of them both and I am instantly brighter and feel energised.
Dopamine is a chemical that the brain releases, this happens when you experience something positive and in turn the dopamine makes you feel better. High levels help improve mood, focus, sleep, memory and even your motivation.
Songs with a positive memory attached, or that you connect with in some way, even if it is just ‘your’ type of music, can give you this hit of dopamine and lift your mood.
A song comes to mind for me here, that if I listen to it always makes me feel better and improves my mood, comes from how the song affects my brain and I just thoroughly enjoy it, however it needs to be the live version for some reason.
Another chemical that fluctuates in the body, serotonin carries messages around the body. It can affect many physical aspects of your health, but also has an impact on your mood, sleep and anxiety.
When you hear a song the neurotransmitters take a look at the impact it has on you and then adjusts your serotonin accordingly. A positive experience of a tune will therefore increase serotonin, boosting your feelings in that moment.
The song below just speaks to me in so many ways, the actual music, the lyrics, the way it is sung and the whole meaning behind the words. It definitely hits the spot for me.
These chemicals are released during pain, stress and also activities that bring you pleasure. To boost your endorphins and have an effect on the stress and pain you are feeling, in a positive way, you need to partake in those tasks that bring you joy.
Listening to music that makes you happy can increase the levels of endorphins in your body and do just that.
I tend to have phases of finding a song just resonates with me on so many levels, that I find it difficult to not listen to it, I hear it rattling around in my brain constantly and will be walking around finding my brain needing to listen to it, perhaps to get that uplifting feeling, that rush of positive chemicals. My current one is in no way conventional, I found it quite by accident and fell in love with it immediately.
I could have picked from so many songs, from every genre and meaning. Songs that evoke memories both good and bad, ones that soothe and others that give me that summer vibe filled with happiness and excitement. This brief look at how music can sometime help you find that wonder in life again has hopefully sparked a little ember inside you that is itching to put that one song on. So, what is your go to song for that instant carefree, happy feeling? Why not share some of your favourites on our Facebook or Twitter channels?
Look out for our other articles about how various forms of entertainment can help you feel that little bit brighter!