Using Music as a Coping Mechanism

by | May 26, 2021 | Mental Health

using music for stress

Music is one of the most soothing and enjoyable resources available when coping with mental health concerns and everyday stress. There are numerous ways to use music as a coping mechanism, and identifying which ones work best for you may take some time. Still, with music as a creative and pleasant tool, coping with stress and mental health problems can be made simpler and more effective.


How Music Can Help Your Mental Health

Listening to or creating music are great ways of managing your mental health, especially if you feel stressed, anxious, angry, or depressed. These intense emotions can be challenging to understand and manage, and music often provides an outlet.

In general, regularly listening to music can improve or stabilize your mood, increase your energy levels, help you relax, encourage creativity, and minimize feelings of stress or anxiety.

Naturally, the benefits of music hinge on factors such as music genre, lyrics, volume, and more. Still, incorporating music into your daily routine can encourage healthier attitudes and behaviors that extend into all areas of your life. Be careful to show restraint with music volume to protect your ears. Think critically about the tones or messages of the music you choose, as some songs could have an adverse effect depending on your current mood and what you want to get out of the music.


Improving Cognitive Function

If you have a hard time concentrating on tasks, listening to classical music can help you focus. Instrumental music is less likely to be distracting, and playing this kind of music at a low volume in the background while you work, read, or study can help you stay on track. Similarly, listening to music while doing other things can also help your memory. The key for improving cognitive function with the aid of music is to find music that is not distracting or disruptive; lyrical songs and songs played at a high volume may counteract the positive effects background music can have.


Boosting Creativity

Listening to music can also help you with creative pursuits. Playing music that you like while working on a creative project or developing innovative solutions can give your brain a boost. More musically-inclined individuals often find that writing or playing music is a worthwhile activity that allows them to be creative and expressive. Even if you are not particularly skilled with an instrument, composing playlists of songs or artists you like and listening to them can be a creative endeavor. Interacting with music by making it yourself or listening to it by yourself or with loved ones can encourage more creative thinking and give you a welcome boost to your mood and energy.


Elevating Mood

Music, especially when played with positive intentions, can have a mood-boosting effect on individuals, making it an excellent tool for anyone who experiences depressive episodes. Uplifting or upbeat music tends to have the most profound impact on mood, but listening to any music that you particularly like can have a positive effect.

Conducted by the West Virginia University School of Public Health, the University of Virginia Health System, and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, one 2016 study sought to determine the effectiveness of music and meditation on stress, mood, sleep, memory, and more. This study concluded that listening to music could very well have a positive impact on stress, mood, and overall well-being. While the study primarily focused on older individuals experiencing a decline in cognitive functionality, the evidence of music’s mood-boosting capabilities remains applicable.

The positive impact music can have on mood often happens organically, but individuals who want to incorporate music as a coping mechanism may try an exercise in intention-setting. When listening to music to cope, you can pick music specifically for the purpose of making you feel happier; with this mindset, you can condition yourself into experiencing a more pronounced effect on your mood when listening to music.


Promoting Relaxation and Reducing Stress

Feeling stressed or anxious, especially for extended periods, can cause difficulties in everyday life. Fortunately, music can help you relax. Though classical or instrumental music are the top choices for relaxation and stress relief, you can listen to any music you enjoy for the sake of rest. Songs with lower beats per minute (BPM) are typically better for this purpose.

A 2013 study conducted by departments from Brandeis University, the University of Zürich, the University of Marburg, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center assessed the stress-reducing qualities of music by assigning participants one of three auditory conditions (relaxing music, rippling water sounds, and silence) before exposing them to a stressful stimulus. By measuring reactions such as heart rate, salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase (SAA) levels, and stress perception, researchers ultimately concluded that music could have a stress-limiting effect on listeners, allowing individuals to recover more quickly from a stressful experience when they listen to relaxing music beforehand.

Put simply, listening to music may help you stay calmer and manage your emotions better, which could be beneficial for individuals who experience anxiety or high levels of stress.


Finding coping mechanisms that work for you can be a long and time-consuming process. Luckily, listening to music can have numerous benefits as a coping tool. Whether you are feeling depressed, anxious, unmotivated, or otherwise unwell, listening to music can help boost your mood, boost your creativity, reduce your stress levels, and improve your ability to concentrate and remember important things. Many people find music to be uplifting, relaxing, fun, and pleasurable, so adopting music as a coping skill can be easy and beneficial. Incorporating music into your daily routine can give you additional stability and joy. At Sober Life, we work to help you manage your mental health and find tools and resources that suit your needs and goals. Speaking with a professional at Sober Life can give you more insight into what will work best for you. To learn more about coping with mental health concerns, call Sober Life at (619) 542-9542 today.

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