Illustrated by Abigail Dannatt

Music and Mental Health

I’ve always thought of music as a powerful way to express any emotion whether you’re listening to or creating it.…

I’ve always thought of music as a powerful way to express any emotion whether you’re listening to or creating it. Using music to help my mental health is something I picked up when I was in primary school, and I strongly believe it can help almost anyone. In this article, I’m going to talk more about my experiences with music as a method to help me through hard times and give you some practical advice in the hopes that music can help you when you need it.

Listening To Music

Allowing yourself to feel sad

Listening to music can be cathartic when you’re struggling with something, either a difficult life event or a chronic mental health issue. I try to think about how I want to feel, sometimes I want to allow myself to feel the sadness that I’m experiencing, so I’ll listen to some sad songs. Some of my favourite songs for this are ‘I walk this earth all by myself’ by EKKSTACY, ‘Sons and Daughters’ by Allman Brown and Liz Lawrence, and ‘I Feel It Too’ by Dream State.

Trying to feel better

If I want to try and forget about whatever’s making me feel unwell, I listen to some happier music that either reminds me of good times or has a melody that makes me feel better. Sometimes, this is just a song that calms me or provides me comfort rather than overly-preppy music. Some of my favourite songs for this are ‘Melon and the Coconut’ by Glass Animals, ‘Broken Boy’ by Cage The Elephant, and ‘The One I Love’ by R.E.M

When you’re angry

Finally, there’s the angry sadness. This is something I struggled a lot with in my late teens and early twenties after an unfortunate string of bad life events, so I naturally turned to music and exercise to help me through it. I found that it was easier to use exercise and the gym as a way to process my anger rather than trying to suppress it, but I needed the motivation, and that came from the music I listened to. Some of the songs I listen to when I need that extra push are ‘Gasoline’ by I Prevail, ‘Bloodline’ by Northlane, and ‘Low’ by Wage War.

Writing and Creating Music

One thing I’ve found that really helps is to express how I’m feeling even when I don’t want to talk about it, so I would write songs that I often wouldn’t ever show anyone. You don’t have to be great at music to do this, and you don’t need any fancy recording equipment either, but it can be really helpful to have something recorded so that you can listen back to it if the feelings resurface.

I’ve linked a couple of examples below of songs I’ve written when I needed to work through something. The first one is called Sunny Weather, and it’s a great example of how you don’t need great recording equipment or instruments to do this. I booked a 2-hour session at Playing Aloud in Lincoln and used one of their pianos, and then recorded it on my phone. I wrote this song for my Grandma who passed away in 2020 after a battle with Alzheimers, and the first couple of years were really difficult as I was so close to her.

The second song is called Don’t Come Home, and I wrote this in 2016 (when I was 17), using my Mac mini to record it into Garageband. It’s not the best song ever, but it really helped me through a tough time in my life when I was dealing with a lot of change and sadness.

Hopefully, you now have some motivation or encouragement to start using music to help your mental health and don’t feel like you have to be great at music to write a song. One thing I always like to remember is that no matter what I’m going through, there’s probably a song that can help me, that way I never feel like I’m going through something alone.

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