Music, Mental Health And Life Journeys – Who Can Deny the Power of Fleetwood Mac?
Some of the most formative relationships I have experienced hold music at their core. My father and I bonded immensely over the past few years, and we have music to thank for that. He was the one to show me what ‘real music’ was, in whipping out his James Taylor and Steely Dan records.
This act of generosity, in sharing a piece of himself with me, encouraged me to explore the transformative power of music and its intimately passionate qualities. It is undeniable that music is a universal language, uniting those from all walks of life to both respect and challenge the world in which we live.
In a society rocked so heavily by political and social traumas, it is natural that we seek something upon which we can anchor ourselves. For myself – and many others – music is the entity through which we can both escape and appreciate our surroundings.
Personally, music has acted as a great stabiliser for my mental health in recent months. When it seems as though our plates are piled high with stress and pressure, finding solace in an expressive art form is one of the kindest things we can do for our minds and bodies. Music has had led to an immeasurable amount of positivity regarding my mood. Simply by listening to my favourite artist, I find myself slipping back in my chair and enjoying life just that little bit more.
We often associate certain songs, artists or genres to passages of time: whether it be our school years, former relationships or the place in which we grew up. Some songs latch themselves onto prolonged and greater periods, and some onto only fleeting memories. Beyoncé’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ conjures up the somewhat mundane memory of waiting in the car whilst my mother did the shopping, but James Taylor’s ‘Copperline’ stirs up the overpowering nostalgia of my teenage years.
With my habit of pinpointing fragments of my life alongside my musical endeavours, I have unsurprisingly attached certain songs to overwhelmingly negative aspects of my past. The BBC published an article in 2011, reporting on a study which claimed that ‘music releases a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting good moods’. Scientifically speaking, it is clear that music can indeed have a positive influence on our mental health. Can it have an equally detrimental effect?
Hearing those songs on the radio, on the television or in person, has at times sent me into a spiralling low mood it’s tough to pull myself out of. It is more than easy – fun, perhaps – to attribute our former years with the music we so dearly loved at the time. However, it also becomes increasingly difficult to sift through the negative patches and their soundtracks.
I’ve listed two of my favourite songs. I hope that at least one person might find a bit of sunshine in their melodies. I would implore anyone, whether you are having difficulties with your mental health or not, to branch out of your musical comfort zone and listen to something fresh. You just might find the right aid to help soothe a negative patch.
‘Beautiful Child’ by Michael McDonald
‘You Make Loving Fun’ by Fleetwood Mac
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