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  • Shaun Barrowes

How Music helps with Mental Health

Anxiety and depression have become serious issues among people of all ages. Adderall usage is up, causing a shortage, and more and more of the younger generations are expressing their struggle with anxiety, depression, or both. The subject of mental health in schools has become a top priority among the higher-ups. The same goes for the workplace. We're seeing more events to bring mental health awareness, we're seeing a rise in demand for therapists and professionals in the industry, and from the looks of it, things are only getting more complicated.





According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 44% of college students experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. In 2022, the number of youth who suffered from at least one episode of major depression rose by 306,000 from last year's dataset. This rise in anxiety and depression isn't exclusive to the younger generations. Adults have also seen a rise. It's clear more people are suffering from mental health issues. It's time we turn to one of the best solutions out there: music.





Over the past few weeks, I've posted about various songs and how they help with mental health. I've created a playlist on Spotify with a collection of songs I feel helps with this issue. Songs like Climb Ev'ry Mountain, Purple Rain, Breaking the Habit, and Breathe Me are among the many great classics you'll find on this playlist.





So how exactly does music help with anxiety and depression? Do you have to be a musician to benefit?


In answer, music helps in numerous ways, and it doesn't only apply to those performing or creating the music. Any listener can find an emotional connection that brings peace to the troubled soul. However, performing music, even by yourself in your living room, provides a different form of catharsis you might not experience from simply listening. Let's break it down.


MUSIC LISTENING


The key to finding emotional resolve through listening is the setting. You need to find a quiet place or use over-the-ear headphones to isolate yourself from your surroundings. It can be tough to withdraw completely from the busy world, but if you can go to your car or bedroom, that can often be the best setting for music therapy. If that isn't an option, a good pair of headphones can do the trick. There are many great headphone brands out there, and it'll mostly come down to your personal preferences. I own three different pairs at the moment and will likely continue to add to my collection. Headphones or an isolated quiet setting allow you to completely unplug. You need to detach from the world. Listening is a form of meditation, so you must treat it the same as any other meditation. Close your eyes, sit still, and just listen.


The better your headphones or sound system, the easier this experience will be. You can find your moment of peace from tiny earbuds or free speakers, but if you're serious about overcoming your anxiety and depression, I'd recommend investing in quality audio gear.


MUSIC PERFORMING


Whether you're grabbing a drum to join a drum circle, strumming an acoustic guitar in your bedroom, or singing at the top of your lungs in the car, performing music provides a very different form of catharsis than listening. While listening can be powerful, performing takes it up a notch. It adds a physical activity that involves your body. It directly connects your body with your soul, and this frees up so much of the stress that can weigh you down.


The key to finding mental health therapy in performing is letting go. Inhibitions, nerves, self-doubt--they all get in the way. In order to truly find freedom in performing, you need to let go and release. It doesn't matter if you play or sing terribly, what matters is that you're doing it with your whole heart. This takes practice. You won't get there on the first try. You might not even get there on the 100th try. But the payoff is worth the effort to learn HOW to get there. It's such an immense release of tension, it trumps nearly every other form of meditation, in my honest opinion.


In this blog, I will continue to dive deeper into this subject. One article cannot fully tackle a complicated issue like mental health. But I'm a believer in music. Music can truly heal the wounded soul. Whether through listening or performing, there's a way for everyone around the world to find peace in music.





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