Music and Mental Health
Do you ever put on a feel-good jam when you’re happy or looking forward to something? Or a slow, moody track when you’re feeling down?
How we feel has a strong effect on what types of music we listen to. But the reverse is also true—music has a strong effect on our moods.
According to recent studies, the connection between music and mental health is deep. Not only does it affect how you feel in the moment, it can influence your long-term well-being. So much so there is evidence that music therapy can help treat depression when used alongside other traditional types of therapies.
The benefits of music
Calming music can be a powerful tool to help you unwind. One study found that individuals who listened to relaxing classical music before going to bed improved their sleep and showed decreased signs of depression.
Listening to music has been shown to decrease your blood pressure, reduce your stress hormones and lower your heart rate. Studies also suggest that people need less pain medication when listening to soothing music during surgery compared to those who don’t listen to it.
Another study examined participants who lost a loved one within the past five years. Researchers had half the group join a choir group while the other half did not. After 24 weeks, those who participated in the choir group reported more stable depression symptoms, higher self-esteem and better overall well-being.
How you can use it
The best way you can use music to improve your mental health is to find what makes you feel the best.
Consider creating several playlists based on various moods so you don’t need to spend too long searching for songs. For example, you could have a somber playlist, a pick-me-up playlist and a dancing playlist to get you moving.
Beware spending too long with songs that reinforce your negative emotions, like sadness or anger. While these can validate how you’re feeling and serve as an outlet, they can keep you in that negative state of mind, too. A technique employed by music therapists is to start out with ‘negative’ music as an outlet, then gradually change the mood of songs to uplift patients’ moods.
You can also try making your own music. You might be surprised how your creative process helps you understand your state of mind more clearly. Playing an instrument can provide a good outlet to focus on and help you develop a new skill in the process.
You can even add lyrics that describe your emotions. Don’t worry about what it sounds like, this process is just for you. No one else has to hear it if you don’t want them to.
It’s not a replacement
Music is a powerful tool. And there is a lot of evidence that it can be beneficial to our mental health. However, it’s not a replacement for traditional mental health care.
With telehealth services from Teladoc®, you can connect with a licensed mental health specialist from wherever you’re most comfortable. Get support for stress and anxiety, depression, grief, family difficulties and more.
Be sure to also visit our mental health page to learn more about the resources, tools and benefits that are available to support your mental health.