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Music and Mood

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
One of the things that people from different backgrounds all have in common is the appreciation of music. While music all around the world might be different, you can’t deny that it is something that reaches across languages and cultural barriers. The creativity of music allows it to communicate endless different thoughts, feelings and ideas. Some of the common feelings can include everything from positive feelings such as love and joy, to more negative emotions such as fear and sadness. Music is powerful in the way that it connects people through empathy. In this way, music can be a great way to reflect on and to understand our own thoughts and feelings. Music can bring people together, as it allows them to share a common experience – such as a musician and their audience, people playing music together, or the shared feelings people get from experiencing the same music together. The way that the energy from music can influence people and the world around us is really quite magical and wonderful.
“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.” – Kahil Gibran
Using music to process your emotions
Music can be a great tool for self-reflection. When you listen to music which you can relate to, it makes you feel better understood. For instance, if you have experienced a loss and listen to a sad song, you feel better knowing that you are not alone in this experience. Another example is listening to angry rock music when you are feeling frustrated; this can help you release your frustrations. Listening to music which expresses the emotions you are feeling is a great way to process your emotions. Oftentimes, you might not even understand your emotions, but listening to music can help you gain clarity. This, in turn, can help you accept your emotional responses and process them in a healthy way.
Using music to influence your mood
There is research to say that you can listen to music actively in order to influence your mood. If you are low in energy and are feeling down; listening to upbeat and happy music can give you a boost. However, in order for this to be effective you need to be making a conscious effort to improve your mood. It is also important just to go with the flow of the musical experience. If you are distracted by your thoughts and keep asking “Am I happy yet?” then it is not likely to work as well. There are many different kinds of upbeat music, from pop music to jazz music, so choose the music which you feel most connected to. Many people may already have a favourite song or artist which gives them a boost, so stick with what you know works best!
On the other side of things, if you are feeling anxious and like your mind is overrun by racing thoughts, music can help you wind down. If this is what you need, seek out relaxing music, such as a meditation track or nature sounds. There is lots of music out there which can help you to calm your mind. Again, the best results are found by following your music preferences. If you are not sure where to start here are a few ideas:
  • calm app, includes nature sounds and relaxing melodies
  • Relaxing music playlist on YouTube
  • Moments of Stillness or Sleep Soundly CD by Sarah Edelman, including guided meditations with ambient music in the background, available in the ADAVIC online store
Mindful listening
Music can even be used to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of focusing your awareness on the present moment by paying careful attention to what you are taking in through your senses, for example your sense of touch, smell or hearing. Mindful listening is a great tool to help you relax; to quieten your mind and remove yourself from any intrusive thoughts; and to manage stress. Listening to music with intention can be a wonderful technique to calm yourself down. Here are some ideas of how to go about it:
Step 1: Make yourself comfortable and remove any distractions from around you (e.g. turn off your phone, ask anyone around you not to interrupt).

Step 2: Start by taking a few deep and conscious breaths to get you centered.

Step 3: Begin listening to your choice of music (soft and relaxing music is recommended, but it is really up to you as to what you prefer, some people might prefer to engage with more upbeat music!)

Step 4: Whilst listening, bring your awareness to the details of the sounds you are hearing, and how you are feeling and reacting to the music as it plays.

Step 5: If your attention starts to stray, acknowledge this, and bring your focus back to the music.

Step 6: Immerse yourself and continue for as long as you need!
For some more information, see this website:
Music therapy
Music can also be used as a part of evidence-based/clinical therapy provided by a health professional. Music therapy is used to help people improve their health and wellbeing. There are a variety of applications for mental health, including: building self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety, boosting mood, developing coping skills or helping individuals to process and understand their emotions. Undergoing music therapy can involve different things depending on what goals an individual is working towards, their musical preferences, their creativity, and the music skills they may or may not already have. Music therapy is generally considered to be a complimentary or alternative therapy, so it should be undertaken in consultation with your doctor who may recommend other   treatments.
If you are interested in seeing a music therapist or learning more about what they do, you can visit the website for the Australian Music Therapy Association at
Music is a very powerful force; it is something which can reach into the depths of your soul. It communicates so many different emotions. It can be described as a mirror which allows us to see insights into ourselves. Music can be used to successfully influence our mood and regulate our emotions, either through your own initiative or through a more structured process such as music therapy. So turn the volume up, block out the world for a while, and bask in a musical experience. You might just find that it can help you through some difficult times.
“Guess there are times when we need to share a little pain, and its times like these when we all need to hear the radio, cause from the lips of some old singer we can share the troubles we already know.” – Elton John
Mel – ADAVIC Volunteer

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