Music and your Mental Health

It’s official-the holiday season is upon us! Which means you’re likely hearing Mariah Carey everywhere, 24/7. Whether you prefer to hear her belt out “All I Want for Christmas” or other classic, catchy holiday tunes, music brings a sense of nostalgia, distraction and happiness. Especially around the holidays!

Why are individuals playing Mariah Carey on November 1st and earlier these days? It brings them peace and comfort in a difficult, stressful world (and it’s the most wonderful time of the year). Let’s explore why music is an amazing stress reliever around the holidays and all throughout the year!

Recent research has suggested that music, whether listening or engaging by singing or playing instruments, can have a big influence on our emotional development and overall wellbeing. Music is known to help with serious mental health and substance use disorders and can literally lower stress hormones in the body.

The JED Foundation suggests specifically listening to classical music if you’re in a bad mood. Listening to music that doesn’t have lyrics can help you process personal feelings and struggles. You can also play fun, upbeat music to improve your overall mood!

So, why do those upbeat songs and holiday tunes really make us feel so happy? Listening to music that we love rewards us with the release of dopamine in our systems. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in our cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning. We crave that happy feeling, so we continue playing Mariah Carey and any songs that bring us joy.

Nostalgia also plays a big part in our overall love for holiday music. Between knowing songs by heart and recalling memories from childhood or with family, holiday songs let us escape and destress.

Here are some tips to help you find peace and happiness using music throughout the year:

  • Create different music playlists for when you’re stressed. You can sign up to access free music on Spotify and other apps to make playlists. Press play whenever you need to hear your favorite songs!
  • Try to listen to your favorite music everyday. Have it on in the background while working if you’re able!
  • Set an alarm on your phone daily to take time for yourself to destress with music.
  • Write down your lyrics from your favorite songs and journal your thoughts if you’re having a difficult day.

So this year, indulge in those holiday melodies, or whatever genre makes you happy during the season, and make sure to make time for yourself.

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