Jam Out for Self-Care: Using Music for Well-Being


By Cydni Young

Image of GMU Homecoming band performance. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University https://photo.gmu.edu/Green-and-Gold-Spirit-/GreenMachineEnsembles/i-XRH4Gfj


Music… the universal language that we all know and love in some shape or form. No matter what genre you prefer - r&b, country, classical, rock - each one has its own uniqueness and speaks to us all in different ways. Ever since I was a child, music has been the catalyst for togetherness in my family, something that brings us even closer and elicits stronger feelings of joy and peace. It seems that every family gathering, whether it’s just us cooking and cleaning, or a part of a larger event like a family reunion, music is always present in some shape or form. With that being said, when life seems to speed up or things have become a bit more chaotic than usual,  I find myself as an adult turning to music as my coping method. The immense feeling of calmness, a moment to “vibe out” to the songs that speak to my spirit, there is nothing like it for me. Over time, I found that many of my family members and peers use music in the same way, to bring stillness in times of absolute craziness. Among the many different ways to maintain well-being, music could potentially be one of the most soothing.


According to Living Well, music can support our wellbeing by stimulating the body’s natural feel good chemicals, such as oxytocin1. By energizing our bodies and providing us an emotional outlet, music can truly help us through some of life’s toughest challenges, with music therapy being a field in itself to provide health and wellness through music. Some benefits of utilizing music in this way include helping us manage stress, enhance our memory, and improve communication. Another interesting fact? Music can also help alleviate pain by reducing our brain’s perception of pain! Music not only seems to be a soothing outlet for emotional expression, but a way to potentially soothe our physical ailments as well! However, the article also points out that although music may improve our sense of self, it could also make us feel worse depending on the type of music we listen to and how it affects us2.


How can we be mindful of this and ensure positive effects? When listening to your music take the time to sit and be aware of how the artist’s lyrics and sounds make you feel during certain moments. For instance, what emotions are you feeling? “Does it make you feel better or worse?...Is it a certain style of music that is helpful or unhelpful or is it a certain artist or words in a song?”3 Taking these mindful steps to navigate your music intake can ensure that you are listening to the tunes that speak to you in the most positive and meaningful way possible, that it truly serves in the moments you need it most.


So now we know some of the benefits to jammin’ out to music; however, you might be wondering how to use music in this way. Well, ReachOut Australia has some helpful tips on when music may be the most beneficial in helping with your mental health, some of which we will highlight right here! Firstly, music can be used to help you focus4. The best way to do so is by having it softly playing in the background as you work. Given the soft tempo, classical music is actually found to be the best at helping you focus - maybe give it a try if this is not your usual genre! Coming second in our list are two ways that go hand-in-hand - using music for self-expression by trying to create your own and spark your creativity5. I personally have written song lyrics and frequently enjoy singing to my favorite songs, which has always taken a weight off of my shoulders in that it allows me to be my authentic self. In any way you prefer, make your music and set it free! Third, you can strengthen your social connections when you share your music interests (maybe even your go-to playlist) with your peers! The fourth is using music to RELAX and recenter yourself, playing the right kind of music that elicits the coziest and most peaceful energy6. And lastly, music can be used to recharge and motivate you to accomplish all things you wish to achieve! Turn up the volume and get started on your goals!


Earlier in this post, I mentioned how music is a universal language - and it truly is. The endless genres, the endless memories, the endless musical forms of expression, there seems to be no end to the good food that music feeds our souls. Whenever and however it fits into your life, try turning up the volume on your favorite songs during the moments when life seems a little wacky. Allow yourself to relax, set your spirit free, and jam out every now and then in the best way you know how - I will be doing the same right along with you.


Take care of you :)


Best of Wishes,

Cydni Young


1. Living Well. (n.d.). How music can support your well-being.  Living Well, https://livingwell.org.au/well-being/mental-health/how-music-can-support-our-well-being/#:~:text=Music%20for%20wellbeing,through%20problems%20in%20our%20lives.  

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. ReachOut Australia. (n.d.). How to use music for mental health.  ReachOut - Coping, https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-use-music-for-mental-health#:~:text=Classical%20music%20is%20a%20winner,get%20on%20with%20your%20tasks

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.