As I’ve previously mentioned there are a variety of ways to manage mental illness with or without medication, leading to a happier and more successful life. One tool I’ve previously mentioned using, is Art Therapy. Although music is one of the arts, I think it definitely deserves its own article due to its effectiveness and the amount of people that do rely on music to cope, including those with a mental illness, and without.
From a scientific perspective, research has shown that music causes dopamine (the feel-good chemical in your brain) to be released. This is scientific proof that music improves your mental wellbeing. There is also evidence that suggests negative themed music creates a positive reaction in the brain, causing you to redirect your energy into a more positive manner and become more productive and motivated. Although all forms of music do this. There are many other benefits of music proven by science, these include:
- Providing a person with a sense of control
- Releasing endorphins
- Relaxes a person by slowing both their breathing and heart rate
- Enhances higher brain function
- Improves concentration and attention
- Improve a person’s mood and reduce the effects of depression
- Reduces stress
- Can help a person fall asleep
- Reduces feelings of fatigue, increasing energy and productivity levels in a person
As you can see there are a variety of benefits to be gained through using music as a way to improve both your physical and mental wellbeing that have been proved through extensive research and the use of science.
Music can be used to express feelings in a healthy and controlled manner, it also allows you to express thoughts and feelings that would be hard for you to say. Many people find music helpful as it provides comfort, something in which the individual relates to and allows you to feel understood. It also improves focus and allows you to maintain attention when performing tasks. A vast amount of people find listening to music to be relaxing, or that it allows you to relax when you are experiencing thoughts and feelings that are causing distress. Another great benefit of listening to or making music is that it fosters creativity, and allows you to think about things from a different perspective.
Many people use music as a way to feel a part of something and combat loneliness. There is a huge social aspect to music, and you can make many great friendships and relationships through music. It gives you something to have in common with others and the opportunity to meet other people that like similar things to you, as well as meet people who have similar struggles as you and understand what you are going through. It’s a magnificent tool for improving your social life, and allows you to cease feelings of loneliness.
How Music Helps Me Cope with Schizoaffective Disorder
Music is my favourite way of dealing with my mental illness. Music has always been a huge part of my life, even before I became mentally ill. As I am also able to play numerous instruments, this has made my love for music grow. I would go as far to say that music is what keeps me sane.
When I experience intense emotions such as anger, sadness, paranoia or any other negative emotion, music is my immediate go to. This is because it provides an immediate distraction and allows me to focus on something else. As I suffer from schizoaffective disorder, this means that I experience hallucinations, typically auditory and visual hallucinations. Music is a great way to block out voices or at least dull the hallucinations, and make them far less bothersome. I have also found music to provide me with motivation and make me far more productive than I would be without it. I regularly use music to change my mood, if I am feeling low and depressed, music is one of the very few things that can successfully improve my mood.
I have suffered with rather severe insomnia over the past few years, and music is one way I have been able to combat this. Although it only works when my insomnia is only of slight intensity, I have found listening to music before and whilst I sleep to actually make me sleep and allow myself to sleep well. This may not work for everyone, or it may only work for me, but if you suffer from insomnia and are yet to try this, give it a shot and see if it works for you. However, music also comes in useful in another way when I am suffering from insomnia; and that is the fact that I can use it to pass time when I am awake during the early hours of the morning. It is a wonderful cure for boredom.
I have found music to be one of the most effective and useful tools in managing my mental illness, I would be completely lost without it. If you find music to be useful to you, make sure you use it, and use it as much as you can. You will be surprised by all the benefits it can bring to you.