Music and mental health

Blog by Alison Jackson

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As the winter months approach and the thought of lockdown looming like a dark cloud over our everyday lives, it is easy to get sucked into a negative spiral; it can a massive impact on our wellbeing. 

 

A lot of focus during 2020 is how the current situation affects our mental health; the threat of infection, repeated lockdowns, social isolation, and economic uncertainty have created widespread fear and anxiety. Even people who previously thought themselves unaffected by mental health issues have discovered that they, too, are vulnerable. 

 

Mental health charity ‘Mind’ states that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind in a year and 1 in 6 people experience anxiety or depression in any given week. Issues with mental health are by no means a weakness, and nobody should feel embarrassed about seeking help. There are many channels of help and advice that you can try to reduce symptoms of mental unrest; I am going to concentrate on music (we are a music school after all!) 

 

At Hot House Music we believe that music is a powerful tool. A piece of music can take you back to a single important moment in your life; it can help you get through that last 500m of a 5K run; a song you play in the morning can even affect how you challenge the day. 

 

In 2011 researchers found that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. It also found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. It can also calm someone down when they are facing times of anxiety. 

 

Although music has proven to increase cognitive performance, modern open-plan offices are not the best place to be blasting your favourite tunes. If you’re currently working from home, you have an advantage; you can listen to whatever music you want to! Research shows that music increases focus, especially classical music; so, if there is something specific you need to get done you may benefit by updating your playlist and having it on in the background. 

 

Music also can help reduce stress. Many people, including myself, use music as a way of coping with stressful situations, just listening to music can lower stress levels. It can also improve mood; research has shown that people who listen to music can have a better mood and become more self-aware. 

 

So, use music as a therapy; use it to help you express your emotions. Whether it is through playing an instrument, writing music, analysing lyrics, or just generally screaming along to heavy metal music; it CAN help. 

 

Brain calming music  

 

If you need mental health support, please contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call (free) 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org. You can also call the Samaritans Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7 pm–11 pm every day). 

 

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