The Power of Music on Your Mental Health
Anyone who has read my blog for any amount of time knows that music plays a powerful, indescribably important role in my life. In the past, I’ve specifically discussed my love of metal music and how listening to metal music helps my mental health. I want to use this post to discuss music in a more general sense, as I believe no matter what kind of music you love and listen to, you can and will get something positive out of it.
Why Music Is Powerful
Catharsis is a term that most readers probably have some familiarity with. Deriving its current meaning from the ancient philosopher Aristotle, catharsis essentially suggests that art has the ability to purge the mind of powerful emotions that have been built up or repressed. When Aristotle used the term, he was specifically talking about the theater, but I believe that it can be applied to any art form or medium, whether it be a film, a book, or in this case, music.1
In fact, music may be the greatest form of art in terms of its sheer ability to cause catharsis in its listeners. Other forms of art, by their nature, have to rely on other forms of communication to convey their meaning. For instance, literature and film (through dialogue) use language, and language needs to be understood by the reader/viewer to a certain degree if they are going to get anything out of what they are reading/watching.
Music does not have to worry about this – its meaning is simply apparent every time you listen. I don’t have to “know” anything about the classical tradition in an intellectual sense to be profoundly moved when I listen to, say, Beethoven’s Ninth. This ability to be so immediately impactful is, to me, unique to music and why I believe it is the most powerful of the arts.
Music and Mental Health
So what does this mean for mental health? It means that if you are feeling anxious or stressed out, the best thing you can do in the short term is put on a song that you find emotionally moving. It doesn’t have to be metal like I would certainly do – any genre would work, as long as you find it moving.
Its power of immediacy means that whatever song you choose could have the power to have a positive impact on you within seconds. If you’re in a particularly vulnerable position, every minute counts, so to have a form of art that can begin to work instantaneously is valuable.
Honestly, if you need to, lay down and just listen for as long as you need to. During particularly dark spells, I will do this for hours, and I find it among the only things that can help me. It may not make my problems disappear, but to be able to do something that can so quickly make me feel even a little bit better is profoundly valuable.
- Encyclopedia Britannica, Catharsis. Accessed February 1, 2022.
DeSalvo, T. (2022, February 2). The Power of Music on Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2022/2/the-power-of-music-on-your-mental-health