Music has an incredible power to bring people together, evoke the same emotions, and transcend language, color, politics, faith and love. It is a part of many people’s daily lives and can be used as a creative outlet or calming therapy. Research has shown that music therapy can be beneficial in managing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism, trauma and schizophrenia. This healing power of music can be achieved through lyric analysis which allows individuals to identify song lyrics that resonate with them; songwriting which provides an outlet for expression; playing an instrument which serves as a creative release; and connecting with others through music. Music has the potential to bring joy in difficult times by relieving stress and enabling self-expression.

“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same”.
-John Denver

For the majority of individuals, music is an integral part of daily life. We rely on music to get us through our morning commute, while others turn up a favorite playlist to stay pumped during a workout. Many folks even have the stereo on when they’re cooking a meal, taking a shower, or folding the laundry. Music is a creative outlet for many, a calming therapy for others and has a significant influence on our mood. Music can make us dance, run faster, calm our minds and bring up memories. A particular song can make us feel happy, sad, energetic, or relaxed. Because music can have such an impact on an individuals’ mindset and well-being, it should come as no surprise that music therapy has been studied for use in managing numerous medical conditions. Types of music differ in the types of neurological stimulation they evoke. For example, classical music has been found to cause comfort and relaxation while rock music may lead to discomfort. Music may achieve its therapeutic effects in part by elevating the pain threshold. Whether an individual is passively listening to music, playing an instrument or singing a song; there indeed is a healing power to music.

Research shows the benefits of music therapy for various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, autism, trauma, and schizophrenia. Music acts as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief, but music can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or mood dysregulation. The following are mechanisms and means in which music can heal the mind.

Lyric analysis: While talk therapy allows a person to speak about topics that may be difficult to discuss, lyric analysis introduces a novel and less-threatening approach to process emotions, thoughts, and experiences. An individual receiving music therapy is encouraged to offer insight, alternative lyrics and tangible tools or themes from lyrics that can apply to obstacles in their life and their treatment. We all have a song that we deeply connect to and appreciate; lyric analysis provides an opportunity for an individual to identify song lyrics that may correlate with their experience.

Songwriting: Songwriting provides opportunities for expression in a positive and rewarding way. Anyone can create lyrics that reflect their thoughts and experiences, and select instruments and sounds that best reflect the emotion behind the lyrics. This process can be very validating and can aid in building self-worth. Just like journaling, songwriting can be a creative outlet and can allow an individual to express his or her thoughts transparently.

Playing an instrument: Creating your music, whether merely strumming a guitar or composing lyrics to a song can help you express and process your emotions. It’s more about how it makes you feel than how it sounds. Remember that no one ever has to hear your music if you don’t want them to.

Social connection: Music can stop you from feeling lonely or isolated. Whether it’s sharing playlists with your friends or meeting new, like-minded people at your favorite band’s next gig, music connects people.

Music is an essential tool in mood management and can be used on a daily basis to heal people whether they are struggling with their emotions or a mental health disorder; music has the potential to bring great joy, to relieve stress and to enable self-expression. What song or type of music gives you back your strength and happiness when you are feeling down? How does music help calm you after a difficult time? Does singing a song or playing an instrument help elevate your mood?

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