I’m sure we’ve all heard that music speaks to us on so many levels. There are plenty of articles and research that indicate the numerous physical and mental health benefits of listening to music. Some benefits include reducing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as improving someone’s mood and cognitive performance. I have personally experienced the benefits, and I know plenty of people who utilize it as an ongoing coping skill. I have found that there are specific types of music or artists that fit for different moods and emotions. For example, classical music with softer tones is more related to feelings of relaxation and calm. Pop/dance type music is for more energized, upbeat feelings such as happiness and excitement.
There are two types of ways you can utilize music to help alleviate stress and improve your mood:
1. You can put on music that is related to the feeling/emotion that you would like to tap into or invoke. When someone is anxious, overwhelmed, stressed or overstimulated, putting on calming music such as classical or meditative sounds (i.e. ocean waves) can help the person focus on the music or sounds and eventually reach a calm and relaxed place.
2. You can put on music that matches the emotion you are currently feeling in order to tap into experience and express your emotions in ways you cannot verbally. For example, someone going through some emotions of anger regarding a break up may listen to Alanis Morissette (specifically Jagged Little Pill album) to get in tune with those emotions, experience them, and eventually release them (sometimes you need to listen to a song on repeat for a while, and that’s okay!).
There’s also a very profound way that music can help people. Sometimes we listen to a song, and hear the lyrics and it feels as though they were written for you. Sometimes people find a song, or a musician or a band, and they connect with them on a deeper level. You find a song that you relate to so deeply. This type of experience is so wonderful and meaningful because it makes many people who are feeling alone, depressed, or isolated understand that there are people out there just like you, who are experiencing the same things you are. You realize that you are not alone. And someone out there understands you.
Personally, I have always felt connected to the band Garbage. They have a lot of songs that speak to people who feel misunderstood or different. I’ve always felt that I was misunderstood and never really fit into any category or type. This was difficult for me at times growing up. People who don’t feel like they fit in often feel lonely and isolated because it is difficult to find others to connect to if you don’t feel understood or accepted. Garbage spoke to me (and still do) in ways that no one else has. I even got a tattoo with lyrics that spoke to me. They made me feel like I was not alone. I could put on a song and listen to it and know that there are others out there who feel the same way I do, and that it is okay to be me and embrace my ability to be different and unique.