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Why Music Is My Favorite Mental Health Resource

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At different times, music kept me grounded, kept me company and kept me here. Music is my preferred media by lightyears — no contest. This is why I post so many songs and usually attach one to my blogs. Because it is always around: inspiring, aiding, present. Since I was little, it has been one of my only and best constant friends. No judgment, no feeling like a burden. It was there for everything: Celebrations, losses, work stress, worries about health, fretting about loved ones.

Music can take me away when everything is too much. I focus in on the sound and block out everything else, and I’m somewhere else. Happier times, different times, different places. Sometimes, music I haven’t heard in years starts playing in my head when I need it, and beckons me to listen to the actual song.

Does it always help? I’m not sure. When I’m at the absolute bottom of my depression, or something traumatic has just happened, I don’t think interacting with anything in a meaningful way is within my capabilities.

It has helped me through countless days of regular deep-sea (not bottom-of-the-sea) depression. You know, the kind where you almost still have enough agency to do something silly? Music refocuses my attention. Especially music that echoes the depression, because I can hear the pain and know they made it through to produce that sound.

Sometimes, I crave the poetic words. At other times, the sound is what soothes me, and the lyrics are trash, but it doesn’t matter. Music doesn’t have to be good to help you.

A picture of a street with the quote "music does not have to be good to help you"

As an adult with sensory overload and an anxiety disorder during a pandemic, music is more of an escape than ever.

The kids are always here, always screaming, screeching or talking over the TV. It may seem counterintuitive, but it relieves sensory overload symptoms to put on noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones, turn the music all the way up and sing at the top of my lungs. The efficacy is doubled if I shut my eyes, or am consumed in something such as crafting or cleaning.

The kids don’t like it, but I don’t care. No one likes them screaming, and yet…

An activity with music that helps me, besides the screaming and using it to block out sounds, is making playlists for different moods. Besides list-making soothing my anxiety, it also means then I’ll have a pre-made custom resource when I need it the next time.

You can do this on Spotify or YouTube or I’m sure a million other places online. I use YouTube because it’s easiest to me.

How does music help you?

Getty image by FTiare

Originally published: March 12, 2021
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