How Music Helped Me Improve My Mental Health
We always hear people banging on about how good music can be for our mental health, and I’m guilty of being one of those bang-on-ers! But in what ways, exactly, does music benefit our mental well-being? Well, I’m about to share a few personal examples of music’s incredible impact on the mind and how it helped me to improve my mental health.
1) Building Self-Esteem
One way music has been beneficial to my everyday mental health is how it’s boosted my self-esteem. Being able to do anything well feels good, and after spending time learning an instrument, you notice yourself improving. There’s a turning point on each instrument where you think, “Hey, actually, I’m kind of alright at this!”
This is really good for your self-esteem. Nothing feels better than being able to do something well. Especially if it’s something as cool as playing an instrument!
2) Learning to Express Myself Creatively
Creative expression isn’t limited to catharsis. Sometimes you might want to creatively explore a positive experience you’ve had, or just explore sounds for the sounds’ sake. It’s without doubt that creativity is good for our mental health, and music nurtures that creative part of our brain. Being creative, through music, allows us to be children again, to really experience life, in all of its beauty.
3) Improving Ability to Focus
This might sound odd initially, but playing music can also be a kind of meditation. Reading sheet music, especially, can really focus the mind. As you follow the dots on the page, there’s little space to think about anything else. It allows you to exist in the moment, to be at one. Before you know it, you’ll have relaxed.
It’s not limited to reading music, though. Playing improvised music can also have meditative qualities and learning new pieces, again, encourages you to live in the moment. Not only is this good for your mental health, but it feeds your spiritual self and allows you to become more connected…
Catharsis! It’s one of those words, even just saying it feels cathartic! If you’re not familiar with the word, it means letting things out through creative expression. Using creativity as a release. And, wow, does music have incredible cathartic potential! No matter what instrument you’re playing, you can really choose to ‘give it some welly’. Alternatively, you can make up your own songs, to express what you’re experiencing. Personally, I’ve used music for catharsis time after time. Sometimes, within my own songs, but also playing existing songs with passion and even aggression. It’s true what they say about things being better out than in, and one way of getting rid of unpleasant emotions is releasing them through your instrument!
5) Building Connections With Other People
Which brings me to the 5th benefit. Music can really bring people together. In his famous TED talk, Johann Hari says “The opposite of addiction is connection.” This powerful message is so important: connecting with others is an essential part of our mental health. Music is one route to this. Playing with others, particularly, can help you to feel a sense of belonging, in this world and in yourself.
Though it began quite personally, this list broadened, because really, it’s for everyone. Music is there for us all. It can bring us together, help us to exercise our creativity, to express ourselves and to connect with the universe and others.
So, I say…