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  • Shaun Barrowes

20 Minutes of Music

I've been researching and learning more about how music can truly help us all with our mental struggles. Whether it's anxiety and depression, anger problems and outbursts, or something as harrowing as suicidal thoughts, music can alleviate. 20 minutes of uninterrupted music is what truly helps. Do nothing. Just listen for 20 minutes. Our brains need time to heal from the organized chaos that can too often define our lives. We need stress relief. Our minds get cluttered. It's an intense spiral that perpetuates stress. If we don't take time to stop and listen, the stress of daily life can unravel everything we've worked for in the flutter of a bee's wing.

"But I don't have time as it is, how can I fit in 20 minutes of listening?"

Most of us have jam-packed our days with so many things, we feel like we're in a constant state of catch-up. Tasks and items pile up faster than we can accomplish them. Having young kids can often feel like this. There are ways to carve out time. Sometimes, it means sacrificing things we want but don't need. Usually, it means asking for help. We can't live our lives alone. We need to recruit the help of others. Maybe you need a nanny for an hour a day. Maybe you need to ask your neighbor or friend for help now and then. Maybe you have a relative who's willing to come by for a few minutes a day.

I definitely do not recommend sacrificing sleep, unless you happen to be one of the 1% who sleeps too much. Most of us are sleep deprived as it is. Sleep is important. Do not draw from that depleted well.

One thing is certain: we all need to make time for health.

However you do it, make time for health. Exercise comes in many forms, and listening to music for 20 minutes is just as healthy and helpful as going to the gym or taking that morning run. We all need to spend as much time on our mental health as our physical health.

20 minutes of music

Many of you will say, "I already listen to 20 minutes of music every day." Listening while working, exercising, driving, etc. is helpful, but it's not at all what I'm referring to here. We need to shut everything down. Stop doing and just listen. Close your eyes, stare into space, sit on the floor, or whatever works for you, but just listen. Let your mind wander where it will. Don't try guiding it. Don't try focusing on specific questions. Just set your mind free. Open the cage and let it fly.

Try this for 30 days and see how you feel. Start your day with it, end your day with it, or whatever works for you. But fit it in. Make time for it.

What music should I listen to?

I have a Music for Mental Health playlist I like to listen to. I've compiled many playlists for this exact purpose. What songs did I add? Songs from my past of all genres. I have classical, jazz, pop, acoustic, rock, r&b, and more. They're songs that impacted me in some way in my past. Maybe they just bring back a certain happy memory, but in most cases, the music itself hits me in a powerful way that revitalizes my soul. More than anything else, I listen to movie soundtracks. A few of my favorite composers are Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, John Williams, etc. Listening to Interstellar's score reenergizes me as does Batman Begins and 1917. There are a lot of great movie soundtracks, and sometimes I just listen to one soundtrack all the way through. That's me. You might find the same boost from the Rolling Stones or old-school country music. Finding your music might take some real introspective meditation, but it's worth it. It'll change your life, literally.

Everyone in the world needs this. We all need to stop and listen.

by Shaun Barrowes

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