It’s been one hell of a year so far hasn’t it. I can’t talk for everyone, but for me its been an emotional rollercoaster, highs and lows, feeling of uncertainty and gratefulness mixed with confusion and anger. Whilst being lucky not to have caught Coronavirus, the pandemic has certainly affected my health. My mental health and the way I have been living my life. I’ve been lucky that for the last 20 years on and off I’ve had support from mental health professionals, health coaches, lifestyle coaches and have integrated practices and habits into my life that have been able to support me during this weird time. Without these practices, I honestly am not sure I’d have got through this year in one piece (there’s still a few months to go so keep your fingers crossed for me) !!
As through all my life, music has been a constant for me during this strange time. It got me thinking about the benefits of music on health and how we can use it as a tool to give us either a boost of energy or to calm us. In a study in 2013 researchers found that dopamine (the feel good chemical in your brain), was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. I can always count on good playlist to get me out of a rut. It’s not just listening to your Spotify playlist that can help, but a study in 2018 suggested that live music can help increase internal sense of emotional wellbeing. Live music goers reported a 25% increase in feelings of self worth, a 25% increase in closeness to others and a 75% in mental stimulation (I cannot wait until I can go to a gig and feel those live music feelings again).
The benefits don’t stop at just listening to music, “Music was my refuge,” the writer Maya Angelou once said. “I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” Song-writing is a fantastic outlet. Whether it’s love songs, upbeat, downbeat or somewhere inbetween, the best songs are the ones where you can connect with the story, and that sense of connection can be so powerful not just for the writer but for the listener too. Sam Fender’s latest album Hypersonic Missles (which we can’t stop listening to in the office), was a way for him to express his grief over losing a friend to suicide. Since then he has gone on to speak about how many people have reached out to him because they felt so connected to the lyrics. If you’re not into writing songs – just writing words is enough. Try it.
I’m not trying to say that music can change the world … okay fine I kinda am … but music is definitely a super powerful tool to help get us though the ups and downs of life in general but especially the year 2020 – a year we will surely never forget! What have you been listening to over the last few months?