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Exploring the relationship between music and mental wellbeing.

“Being able to be your true self is one of the strongest components of good mental health.”
Lauren Fogel Mersy, Psychologist

Mental Health Awareness Week (w/c 13 May) is one of the key dates in the wellbeing calendar and helps to raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. This year the theme is “Moving more for our mental health”, in our blog we wanted to take a slightly different direction and explore the impact that music has on our mental wellbeing.


Music has formed part of our culture for centuries and there is undoubtedly a connection between music and our mental health. Whether we passively listen to our favourite songs on a playlist, listen to the radio; or actively engage in music by singing or playing an instrument, music can influence our mental health. When we face challenging times, many of us turn to music. Sometimes that music is a deliberate echo of how we're feeling, perhaps sombre and sad, but other times we need music of a completely different nature to lift us out of that space, releasing Oxytocin, one of our happy hormones. Recent research suggests that music can play a role in mood regulation. In 2022 a review and meta-analysis of music therapy found that music created a beneficial effect on stress-related mental health conditions. Depending upon the type of music we listen to we can feel a range of emotions eg: relaxed, energised, happy or sad.


Exploring the link between music and mental wellbeing



In our blog this month we explore four ways music can influence our mental wellbeing:






1. Reduce Anxiety

Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain as well as help us to improve the quality of our sleep. By lowering the levels of our stress hormone, cortisol can offer relief when in a stressful situation. It can also provide long-term anxiety relief when you consistently listen to music over time. Jeff Beal, a composer was recently featured in a documentary on Channel 4 News, crediting music for helping him go into remission from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). He had been diagnosed with MS in 2007 and has credited his remission to eating a healthy diet, lots of exercise, meditation, listening and creating music.


2. Helps you to Express Different Emotions

We can see that different types of music can influence our mood. By playing rock or a beat-heavy song, it will help uplift and energise us. On the reverse, if we need to calm down, classical or slow, peaceful music can have the opposite effect. Depending upon this situation, we sometimes cannot find the words to explain how we feel, music can also help with this. Music therapists sometimes use a technique called “lyric analysis” to achieve this.


3. Music Builds Community and social engagement

Loneliness can be a huge contributor to mental ill health and meeting people and feeling a sense of belonging or connection with others can help individuals to improve or overcome this. A report by the Office of National Statistics found that 6% or 3m people in England often felt lonely. There are many community or church choirs out there to help to create the social connection. Listening to music and going to concerts or dancing with others in a club is also a great way to socialise through music.


4. Healing Trauma and Building Resilience

An article by The American Psychiatric Society suggests that many historically excluded groups such as racial, and sexual minorities or those with a disability can struggle with their mental health. Music therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment to help these individuals decrease anxiety and stress levels; reduce pain and improve their overall wellbeing. Research supports the idea that playing an instrument, song writing or group singing can facilitate emotional release, promote self-reflection and create a sense of

community.


If you would like a discovery call to see how we could support the wellbeing of your teams through music, please get in touch.


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