Music as Self-Care

by Mona Oikarinen

17th January, 2019

Music As Self-Care

Music As Self-CareMy brain is going to explode.” “I just want to punch that guy.” “I can’t do this anymore.

Sometimes our negative thoughts and feelings can get in the way of our day and overwhelm us. We will all go through difficult times at one point or another in our lives, and living in a society that seems to demand we provide a silver lining to each and every one of our struggles in conversation can make it feel all the more draining.

As important as I believe it is to try to stay hopeful in life, we are all bound to find ourselves in situations that strike us as profoundly sad or infuriating. And there is something so liberating about being able to express how you feel, to “tell it like it is” with no disclaimers and no apologies. For those times, for when I feel too tired to converse with the expectation of ending on a positive note hanging heavily over me, music has become a source of solace. Given the emotionally charged nature of much of the music that is out there, I am sure this is a shared experience among many.

We all have highly personal relationships with the songs that are important to us. No matter how hard the artists we listen to have worked to evoke a certain feeling or an atmosphere in their music, what often comes up the strongest for us is where we were at in our lives or how we were feeling when we used to listen to it. An upbeat song can unleash a torrent of unpleasant emotion, or vice versa if that is the way we remember our listening experience.

In our daily lives, we use music to regulate our emotions, to enhance the more positive of them and to work through the more negative. Many playlists on streaming platforms such as Spotify are based on this relationship that music has with our moods, as they effectively enable you to choose music based on the mood you are or want to be in. Whether looking for some ‘Monday Motivation’ or to enjoy a ‘Chilled Afternoon’, music can boost your experience. Because music undoubtedly has this influence on our mood, it can be a powerful self-care tool.

One of my favourite albums of the past few years is Phoebe Bridgers’ 2017 album ‘Stranger in the Alps’. Whether unable to sleep or nervous about going somewhere, I have found immense comfort in its melancholic, at times downright depressing lyricism, especially as the album is musically soothing. As cliché, as it sounds and maybe it is to think like this, I love that music can meet me where I am at. No questions asked, anything I’m feeling just feels a little more okay when I escape into that comforting sound world. And that is a powerful thing.

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