How can music support your mental health?

As a music teacher, you know better than anyone the power that music has to evoke emotion. Whether it's a stirring symphony that brings tears to your eyes or a peppy pop song that gets you dancing, music has a way of speaking to us on a deep level. But did you know that music can also have a profound effect on our mental health? Research shows that music can provide significant support for our mental well-being. Let's take a look at some of the ways music can promote mental health.

The power of music in promoting mental health

  • Mood-boosting benefits. One of the most immediate ways that music can support our mental health is by boosting our mood. When we listen to upbeat, positive music, it can improve our outlook and energy levels,leading to increased feelings of happiness and well-being. If you're feeling down, try putting on your favourite tunes and see how they affect your mood.
  • Stress-reducing effects. In addition to its mood-boosting benefits, music can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Research shows that listening to relaxing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels (the stress hormone). If you're feeling stressed out, cue up some calming tunes and take some deep breaths.
  • Pain relief properties. Another incredible way that music can support our mental health is by providing pain relief. Studies have shown that listening to music can help to reduce pain levels in both chronic pain sufferers and those recovering from surgery. If you're struggling with pain, try listening to some soothing tunes and see if it makes a difference.

 As you can see, music is much more than just entertainment – it also has the power to support our mental well-being in a variety of ways.

Looking after your mental health as a musician or teacher

Anyone who works in the music industry will know that it can be a demanding and stressful environment. Musicians and music teachers often have to deal with intense pressure, long hours, and constant criticism. But did you know artists and performers are seven times more likely to experience poor mental health? Musicians often feel unsupported with their mental health problems with 55% stating there are “gaps in the provision of services for musicians.”

As a musician and/or teacher, it's important to take care of your mental health under these conditions, or else you may start to experience burnout. You should:

  • Take regular breaks. When you're constantly working on music, it's easy to get lost in your work and forget to take a break. Make sure to schedule in some time each day to relax and do something unrelated to music. This could be something as simple as taking a walk or reading a book.
  • Stay connected with other people. Isolation can be a big problem for musicians and music teachers, so it's important to stay connected with friends and family. Meet up with friends regularly, or keep in touch via social media or video calls.
  • Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining good mental health. Make sure to eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. If you're feeling particularly stressed, consider booking an appointment with a therapist or counselor.

You can also teach your students to prioritize their own well-being. You do this simply by setting the right example yourself, and teach your students about the importance of self-care. This can include things like above – maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks when needed.

By teaching your students about the importance of talking openly about mental health, you can help them build a foundation for a healthy and successful career in music. It can be a sensitive topic, but normalizing the conversation can help reduce the stigma around mental illness. If you're comfortable doing so, share your own experiences with your students and let them know that it's okay to seek help if they're struggling. Music can be a very emotionally demanding profession, and it's important to have healthy coping mechanisms in place.