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Music and Mental Health




23.10.20 – Darrell Priestley

There’s no doubt that living through present times is uncomfortable, and in terms of our emotional well-being, most of us are taking a bit of a pounding. If you are anything like me, you will probably have good days, and other days that you are pleased to put behind you. It’s odd how the usual day to day stuff can feel a bit of a strain.

If it all should sometimes get a bit much, it’s important to remember that it’s pretty much the same for any of us right now, but one thing more: you might actually be doing better than you think! I find I often tell the people close to me that under the circumstances, “we’re doing very well!” This happens almost daily, and it seems to work. I hope you will try it too, because it can really help, and I believe it pays to be positive about yourself whenever you can.

In the meantime, at least we have music, and how lucky we are in that! A 2011 study explored the link between music and mental health, and found that music releases dopamine, the feel good chemical in your brain*. The study found that dopamine levels were up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. We might not usually think about it in scientific terms, but it’s perhaps unsurprising that this simple link between music and mood has been proven. At times like the present, we should not overlook the simple power of music to improve our mental wellbeing.

I find I now listen to music in greater detail than before, especially the tone of the instruments. Upbeat music can be a quick fix for the mood when you need that, but for a more long term boost to the system I look to classical music in particular. There’s something profound about the way that instruments and players come together to make beautiful acoustic and orchestral music that seems to help at a time when social distancing has temporarily become the norm. The gentle reminder that we can be more together than we are alone ironically seems to boost my reserves of patience, and help ease my mind.

If you are looking for something that makes you feel a little better about things in these difficult times, you could not do much better than to tune in to the therapeutic power of music, either listening to what you always enjoy, or even trying out new styles and artists. Happy Listening!