Millions of us love listening to music each day, whether this is on our phones, in our cars, at work, in clubs, pubs or on the radio. There isn’t a time of day on earth that some sort of music is being played. Do you know about the positive link between mental health and music and how much it can help?
Do you just enjoy the lyrics? The beat? The melody or the instruments that your favourite artist use? Or do you ever just switch off from the world and relax to your favourite music?
There could be a good reason for that.
Music and mental health
So, how and why is music so good for mental health? It has been found by the JED Foundation that music is beneficial to mental health in the following ways:
Helps to distract you. Sometimes it is a good thing, sometimes bad! But when it is distracting you from things that may be troubling your mind, music can act as a great place to go to get away from everything.
Lowers your stress levels. Listening to certain types of music can help to reduce your cortisol levels and in turn help you reduce stress. If you are listening to music that you love which makes you feel good, your body will also release endorphins that will give you a sense of wellbeing.
Helps you find your feelings. Do you ever hear that one lyric or bit of music that really speaks to you? Yup, music can do that. If you are in a bit of a tough place and you don’t know what you are feeling and then suddenly BAM! You hear that one bit of music that opens up the floodgates or makes you grin from ear to ear. It can help you find what you are really feeling.
Helps to create a community. A lot of us love a good local open mic night, don’t we? They are great to see local talent artists, find new inspiration and get talking to other people with a shared interest. This is how communities start. You may be musical yourself and want to meet new musicians to play with or you may just want to talk about music, either way – it is a great way to make new connections.
Builds and maintains brain connections. Listening to music can help to activate most areas in your brainand most importantly the areas that are stimulated when you are experiencing something pleasurable. If you play music, you can help yourself to build new brain connections and improve dexterity and the way you express yourself.
It can be quick mood booster. If you are feeling a little low, that song that always picks you up is just a play away. Your favourite songs, whatever genre have the uncanny ability to lift your mood and help you.
How do I get involved in music?
Being involved in music is as easy as turning on your phone and putting in your headphones. You can find yourself in a world away from stress just by pressing play on your favourite song.
Other ways you can get involved in music and ultimately help to improve your mental health:
Perform or go to an open mic night. If you or your child have an interest in music and are thinking of performing, an open mic night may just be the ticket for you. Here you can express yourself through music and forget everything else for a while whilst you perform or become enthralled by some awesome live music.
Learn an instrument. Yes, easier said than done and can be expensive, we know. But there are some easy ways to pick up the instrument of your dreams and express yourself musically. From online and in person music lessons to renting instruments, there is a way for everyone to learn and get involved with music.
Write your own music at home. If you are not performing type but still want to get involved with music, why not try and write your own music and songs at home? It could act as a great de-stresser and give you something creative to do in your spare time. Need some inspiration? Check out the 100 greatest song writers of all time and see what inspiration they can offer you.
Collect and listen to vinyl. Vinyl has hugely come back into fashion and is a great way to listen to your favourite artists in a unique and cool way. Both older artists (who originally recorded on to vinyl) and new artists are using this medium to share their music with their fans. The best place to pick up cheap vinyl is to search your local charity shop, you never know who you will find there.
Without wanting to be rockstar or perform, as you can see there are many different ways you can get involved with music and help to improve your mental health.
How can music help children?
We are all aware of the deepening mental health crisis in the UK and how the demand for mental health services in massively outweighing the supply of mental health services which can provide adequate help.
This is also very much the case for children’s mental health. Though organisations like children’s charities are supplying free mental health services for children, there is a large gap between those who are able to access the help they need and those who cannot.
If you or your child are on a waiting list to be seen by a mental health professional, you maybe looking for something in the interim which could potentially help to distract you or your child or maybe even improve your mental health concerns.
You will be interested to know that music actually has some amazing abilities to help children. Music can:
Help to improve motor skills. Listening of playing music can greatly help your child to improve their fine and large motor skills by singing and dancing along to music. This can also help with their natural rhythm and coordination.
Improve the controlling of emotions. Music can affect everyone’s moods and also compliment moods. Using music to calm children down is a long-practised technique. Did you know that it can also be used to boost moods? Music can help to stimulate your children’s emotions and help them through tough times.
Build self-confidence. By engaging your children in activities like singing and clapping, it will naturally boot their self-confidence when doing it in front of people. This will help them to use their own voices and fill all the spaces they can with fun and confidence.
Encourage working as a team. If you and your child are taking part in a music class together with other people, they will naturally begin to work together with others to achieve a goal.
Develop their use of language. As music affects emotions in many ways for people of all ages, we can use music to help children realise and release their emotions. Calming music has been used for decades to help both adults and children when in need, but music can also be used for the opposite and become a mood booster.
Music is a hugely important thing to entertain people but without realising it, with some imagination and planning it can also be used to fundraise for charities, create a lasting impact on so many and without sounding too corny; change the mindset of huge amounts of people.
Whatever way you use music to help yourself or help your children, you can be sure it will have an impact and potentially help to address your mental health concerns, even temporarily.