I can hear a song and it will catapult me right back to that moment in my childhood. When I hear the 1990 Sinead O’Conner’s hit, “Nothing Compares 2 U” it brings me to my experience with my best friend in high school. We thought it was amazing that whenever we were together the song would be playing. It quickly became “our” song (even though it was a super popular song at the time). Or if I hear any music from James Taylor, Paul Simon, or Billy Joel I reflect back to being a child and my parents are blasting their music and dancing all over the house.
Music is stored in a different area of the brain. As a result, you can often remember every word of a song that you listened to decades ago. Music evokes powerful emotion and it’s a tool I don’t think is as strongly emphasized in therapy as it can be. Music can greatly impact our mood and overall mental health. Most recognize the power music can have but I think it’s important to use music in a mindful way to support our feelings.
Here are some ways to utilize music as a therapeutic tool:
**Create a playlist with music that calms your nerves; or reminds you of a loved one; makes you happy; etc.
**Use music to move your body..D.A.N.C.E. Try Waka Waka by (Shakira)
**Collaborate with friends or family to create playlists together. I currently have a loved one courageously fighting cancer and we started an “Inspiration” playlist. We keep adding songs to it and I love that we found another way to connect and support him feeling good. For example, we currently have Keep Holding On (Avril Lavigne), Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles), Keep Your Head Up (Andy Grammer) and tons more. Even as I write this, I’m starting to hear these songs playing in my head…I have a feeling you might be too!
**Use music as a distraction from the pain and sadness. Upbeat songs like HandClap by Fitz and The Tantrums might just help get you out of a funk!
**Find songs that connect you to your feelings. This can help you feel “gotten” and possibly put words to what you are feeling. A song like Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) often conjures up emotion quickly.
**Use music to help you relax or fall asleep (some recommendations a colleague recently shared with me on Spotify: Sleep Restore Based on EMDR or Bilateral Music)
**Motivation or focus can be enhanced with the right kind of music. Put on music in the background as you are working, cleaning, or studying.
So whether you are listening to classical, EDM, rock, or hip hop, pay attention to how the music feels in your body, how does it make you feel, and if it evokes the emotions you are wanting in that specific moment. “Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls at heartstrings. It acts as medicine.”~Macklemoore
This Post Written By:
Rachel Thomas, LMFT – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881