How to use music for mental health

It doesn’t matter if you love metal, pop or EDM, music can help your mood and help you cope with (or even take control of) tricky emotions. Check out some of the ways that you can use music as a tool for good in your life.

This can help if:

  • you want to incorporate music as a wellbeing strategy in your life

  • you want to learn about the connection between music and mental health

  • you want to understand the benefits of music.

Girl listening to music on grass

How does music improve your mental health?

It has been generally accepted that both listening to and creating music can have various positive effects on mood and mental health. Incorporating music into your everyday life can help to:

  • elevate your mood and motivation

  • aid relaxation

  • increase the efficiency of your brain processing.

Ways to use music for mental health

So, we have learnt that music is more than just a form of entertainment and that there are lots of links between music and mental health. But how exactly can you use it in your day-to-day life? Check out some of the ways here:

  • Focus. Classical music is a winner at helping you focus. Music that has a tempo of 60 bpm (beats per minute) increases the efficiency of the brain in processing information. The best way to use it is to have it playing softly in the background as you get on with your tasks.

  • Expression. The next time you’re finding it hard to talk about or express your emotions, try turning to music for help. Creating your own music – whether simply 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 favourite band’s next gig, music connects people.

  • Creativity. Did you know that listening to or making music allows your brain to think creatively? So, whether it’s a creative project you need to complete, or some new ways to improve your mood, try some different types of music and see what works best for you.

  • Relaxation. Okay, so this isn’t a huge scientific breakthrough, but it’s worth repeating: music helps you to relax. If you choose the right kind of music, change into some comfy clothes and put your feet up, it’s a safe bet that you’ll feel relaxed in no time.

  • Motivation. You need to vacuum the house/study/get some exercise, but you just can’t get off the couch? Use your favourite music as a motivational force. Crank up the volume on a killer tune and chances are you’ll find it that much easier to get started.

A personal perspective

A young person shares why she finds music so powerful:

‘It's indescribable how listening to a song can change everything. It's said that a powerful enough song can even change your life. Music can even teach what humanity cannot always – how to be human, live, feel and love. I'd recommend to anyone that if things aren't going right, and you don't know what to do, just turn up some good music, and tune out for a few minutes before you attempt to figure everything out again.’

What can I do now?

  • Try music as an aid the next time you feel emotional or lonely, or when you need some focus and motivation.

  • Make a playlist of your favourite music, either for yourself or to share with friends.

  • If music really isn’t working for you, it’s no big deal. Check out some other great coping strategies here.