Millions of us enjoy listening to music every day, whether through our phones, cars, workplaces, clubs, pubs, or radios. It’s hard to find a time of day when music isn’t being played somewhere in the world.
But do you just enjoy the lyrics? The beat? The melody or the instruments that your favourite artist use? Or do you ever just switch off from the world and relax to your favourite music? There could be a good reason for that. Do you know what good music can do for you and your children mentally?
Music and mental health
How and why is music beneficial for mental health? According to the JED Foundation, music has been found to have the following positive effects on mental health:
- Helps to distract you. Sometimes it is a good thing, sometimes bad. But when it is distracting you from things that may be troubling your mind, music can act as a great place to go to get away from everything.
- Lowers your stress levels. Listening to certain types of music can help to reduce your cortisol levels and in turn help you reduce stress. If you are listening to music that you love which makes you feel good, your body will also release endorphins that will give you a sense of well-being.
- Helps you find your feelings. Have you ever heard a lyric or piece of music that truly resonates with you? That’s the power of music. When you’re in a difficult emotional state and struggling to identify your feelings, a single song can suddenly open the floodgates or bring a smile to your face. Music has the ability to help you discover and connect with your emotions.
- Helps to create a community. A lot of us love a good local open mic night, don’t we? They are great to see local artists, find new inspiration and get talking to other people with a shared interest. This is how communities start. You may be musical yourself and want to meet new musicians to play with or you may just want to talk about music, either way – it is a great way to make new connections.
- Builds and maintains brain connections. Listening to music can help to activate most areas in your brain and most importantly the areas that are stimulated when you are experiencing something pleasurable. If you play music, you can help yourself to build new brain connections and improve dexterity and the way you express yourself.
- It can be a quick mood booster. When you’re feeling down, your go-to pick-me-up song is just a play away. Whether it’s your favourite song from any genre, music has a unique ability to boost your mood and provide comfort.
How can you get involved in music?
Getting involved in music is as simple as putting in your headphones and turning on your phone. With just the press of a button, you can transport yourself to a world free from stress by listening to your favourite songs.
Here are some additional ways to engage with music and promote better mental health:
- Perform or go to an open mic night. If you or your child have an interest in music and are thinking of performing, an open mic night may just be the ticket for you. Here you can express yourself through music and forget everything else for a while whilst you perform or become enthralled by some awesome live music.
- Learn an instrument. Yes, easier said than done and learning an instrument can be expensive, we know. But there are some easy ways to pick up the instrument of your dreams and express yourself musically. From online and in-person music lessons to renting instruments, there is a way for everyone to learn and get involved with music.
- Write your own music at home. If you are not a performing type but still want to get involved with music, why not try and write your own music and songs at home? It could act as a great de-stressor and give you something creative to do in your spare time. Need some inspiration? Check out the 100 greatest songwriters of all time and see what inspiration they can offer you.
- Collect and listen to vinyl. Vinyl has hugely come back into fashion and is a great way to listen to your favourite artists in a unique and cool way. Both older artists (who originally recorded on vinyl) and new artists are using this medium to share their music with their fans. The best place to pick up cheap vinyl is to search your local charity shop, you never know who you will find there.
Without wanting to be a rockstar or perform, as you can see there are many different ways you can get involved with music and help to improve your mental health.
How can music help children?
We are all aware of the deepening mental health crisis in the UK and how the demand for mental health services is massively outweighing the supply of mental health services which can provide adequate help.
This is also very much the case for children’s mental health. Though organisations like children’s charities are offering free mental health services for children, there is a large gap between those who are able to access the help they need and those who cannot.
If you or your child are currently on a waiting list to see a mental health professional, you may be searching for something to provide temporary relief or alleviate mental health concerns in the meantime.
You will be interested to know that music actually has some amazing abilities to help children. Music can:
- Help to improve motor skills. Listening to playing music can greatly help your child to improve their fine and large motor skills by singing and dancing along to the music. This can also help with their natural rhythm and coordination.
- Improve the controlling of emotions. Music can affect everyone’s moods and also complement moods. Using music to calm children down is a long-practised technique. Did you know that it can also be used to boost moods? Music can help to stimulate your children’s emotions and help them through tough times.
- Build self-confidence. Encouraging your children to engage in activities such as singing and clapping can naturally boost their self-confidence, particularly when performing in front of others. This newfound confidence will enable them to use their own voices and fill any space with joy and confidence.
- Encourage working as a team. If you and your child are taking part in a music class together with other people, they will naturally begin to work together with others to achieve a goal.
- Develop their use of language. As music affects emotions in many ways for people of all ages, we can use music to help children realise and release their emotions. Calming music has been used for decades to help both adults and children when in need, but music can also be used for the opposite and become a mood booster.
Music is not only a great source of entertainment but, with a bit of imagination and planning, it can also be used to fundraise for charities, create a lasting impact on individuals, and even shift the mindset of a large group of people.
Whether you use music to improve your own mental health or that of your children, you can be confident that it will have a positive impact and potentially provide temporary relief from mental health concerns.
Tom Gillett is the communications manager at Little Lives UK.
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