Music for the Mind

In a world where feeling worried, anxious, and stressed has become the new social norm, it’s crucial to have an outlet to help you relax; something to clear your mind from all the chaos. For many, this outlet is music.

Music plays a significant role in our lives. From listening to learning, it manages to creep its way into our brain, impacting our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Pianist and TED Talk speaker, James Rhodes, describes music as a language we don’t know but are all fluent in. He emphasizes that we need more music in the world to create more connections, with others and ourselves. In fact, music can reveal a lot about yourself and the world in which we reside. It’s a form of storytelling, art, and self expression. The next time you blast your favourite song, focus on the lyrics. And don’t just hear them; listen. What message is the artist is trying to convey? Can the lyrics show you how the artist feels? How do they make you feel? These are questions that many will ask when discovering the style and genre of music that speaks to them.

Try this: go somewhere that you can be alone and put a song on, any song, happy or sad. Blast the volume. Just for a moment, tune the world out and focus on the music. Press pause on all the chaos and worry in this world and let yourself be feel the beat, the emotions, the music.

When the song ends, ask yourself: how do I feel?

Music and mood are heavily interconnected, and it is scientifically proven that happy, and even sad music, can affect how you feel as well as boost happiness and reduce anxiety. Music releases a chemical in your brain called dopamine, coined as the feel-good neurotransmitter. Therefore, by listening to music, our bodies naturally release dopamine and activate the warm, serotonin feeling inside of us.

Musical taste is very personal. This has to do with the fact that it is strongly connected with memory and emotion. Therefore, the most important music to listen to when you are feeling down is the music that works for YOU. In fact, many studies emphasize the importance of a self-curated music playlist. However, if you are still feeling stuck and need guidance, recommended genres to support relaxation include classical, soft pop, and overall slower pieces of music. Lyrical pieces can also give listeners a sense of clarity and acceptance, especially when one can connect to the artist’s words. Again, this is subjective. What works for you may not work for another. Experiment with different genres and when you find a song that speaks to you, add it to a playlist. Eventually, you will cultivate a collection of pieces that you can rely on when you need it.

In the middle of March, when the pandemic made headlines worldwide, my anxiety was at all time high, as I’m sure it was for many others. I began to seek different forms of therapy through art, entertainment, and most importantly, music. Over the course of these past 8 months, music has changed my life. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of who I am. The music I listen to is simply a reflection of myself: it’s like looking in the mirror and being able to see my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I’ve created a collection of music that I find comfort in. When I’m feeling sad, I know the exact playlist to put on to make me feel better. When I’m feeling happy, I have the perfect playlist prepared so I can have an impromptu, dance party in my bedroom. This is why it’s so important to integrate music into your life. It’s a source of therapy, and it works. Take your time with it. Listen to music, share music, talk about music. Around the same time, I became interested in collecting vinyl. I find it fun to appreciate all the effort that went into creating the record and having that physical copy. My collection has grown over the past few months and so has my happiness.

From the wise words of Macklemore, “Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heart strings. It acts as medicine.

Written by Keira Johannson

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