HOW MUSIC HELPED MY MENTAL HEALTH
I’ve battled anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and verbal, mental and physical abuse. At the age of 25, I can say that my journey with mental health has been tumultuous yet rewarding.
My saving grace in all of this? Music.
I like to consider myself resilient for fighting to keep music in my life. My father was not supportive of my music at all. From the age of 5, maybe every week if not every day, I was taunted and abused for pursuing music. Most kids would have understandably quit in that situation. I stuck by it - and maybe because my mother was there to support me and fight with me against all the resistance. Music runs deep on her side of the family. I naturally grew up training in Hindustani classical music, various instruments, and many different dance styles. And overall I was an avid consumer of Bollywood and Pop music. If I had to eat, sleep, study, exercise, shower, or drive, I needed music – something I’m sure most of the population unconsciously already does. I was performing on various cultural stages at an early age. Even today, when I have to go perform on stage or release a new music video, I’m not met with much enthusiasm from one parent. This is a form of trauma – to be met with disapproval from one of the closest people in your life when pursuing something you deeply love. But what kept me doing was the music itself and my love for it.
Have you ever been in a position where you didn’t know how to express how you feel in a moment or after a negative experience in general? Because I’ve been there many times, and I turn to find “the song” that can do it for me. Music according to me is insightful, tangible, and applicable to your life obstacles. You just keep playing that one song over and over until . . . you’re done with it. You don’t like hearing that song anymore because you’ve processed those emotions for that situation. Just like that, over time, that melancholy Arijit Singh song (or Coldplay – take your pick) gave you the opportunity to address your mental health in a completely healthy way. You’ve now turned to an upbeat song (maybe Honey Singh or Calvin Harris – again take your pick) because you’re in a better place. Music is that form of therapy that encourages emotional expression, conflict-handling, grief, and communication – all the hard notions that we as humans are scared to deal with.
Singing is a more active way of partaking in music. And, you don’t have to be trained to understand how therapeutic singing can be. I’m positive that the billion shower singers out there are doing an incredible job of unknowingly dealing with stress and anxiety. You’re now putting yourself in the position of vocal expression. It may be someone else’s words, but they reflect your thoughts, your self-worth, your strength – and they become a bridge for you to use as a source of comfort. That alone is therapeutic too – there is structure and opportunity for you to engage in. I can’t even describe the number of times I have been frustrated while studying, so I just belt out the chorus of a random song and it’s instantly calming. My impulses for anger and screaming diminish because I’ve let it all out in a much more healthy way. There are scientifically studied pathways that show that music and singing can increase neuron signalling to certain parts of your brain that then release serotonin and dopamine – the two main calming neurotransmitters in our body.
Seeking music as a coping strategy to deal with your mental health is powerful. I hope that some of you can relate to what I’ve shared about my experiences with music and its vast powers to elevate mood. It can truly be your best friend, your go-to person and your greatest love.
Written by - Avish Jain
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