Music for Mental Health

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I believe that music is good for my mental health. Even when I only have a few moments, I have time to crank up a tune to change my perspective.

Woman with heaphones on
Photo by bruce mars on

It’s no secret that special needs mamas don’t have much time for self care. Heck, we barely have time to go to the bathroom! And yet, studies show our stress levels are through the roof.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future, and how I’m going to provide for our kiddo – some reports estimate that the cost of raising a child with autism and intellectual disability can reach 2.3 million dollars over a lifetime. That thought alone can make me feel as though I’m drowning.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am a blog and Pinterest junkie – and there are no lack of posts about how I need to be taking better care of myself. Realistically, though, just when should I do that? I have about 20 minutes between the time the bus leaves and work starts. Perhaps another 30 minutes between the time my kids fall asleep and I simply crash. 10 if I’m lucky enough to take a shower. With our need for routine, I can’t simply deviate to take some time for myself – not without creating complete chaos.

Enter Music

I love music, and have for as long as I can remember. More than that, getting lost in music. Just 3 minutes and I’m amazed how it can transport me. In my personal experience, there are all kinds of music – for every mood and situation. Perhaps you’ve felt the power of music firsthand – moved by particular songs that spoke to you in specific circumstances.

Scientists agree

At the University of Missouri, researchers have found that listening to music can improve your mood. Their research lends scientific credibility to the behavior many I’ve already experienced on my own: listening to upbeat music brightens my day and boosts my mood.

Here are 3 songs that will instantly boost my mood

  1. Best Day of my Life – American Authors I can’t help but throw my hands in the air while signing “Whooo-hoo-ooo ….This is gonna be the best day of my life
    My li-i-i-i-i-ife”
  2. Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake Sunshine in my pocket makes me smile, how about you?
  3. Cake by the Ocean – DNCE I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know most of the lyrics in the song, but it’s upbeat and funky. Also, it makes me think about why on Earth anyone would want to eat by the ocean? I mean, isn’t there sand? Ewww. Wouldn’t cake melt? Are we at the ocean on a hot day? Let’s just say it creates a nice distraction for my busy mind.

Can you say IEP meeting?

Likewise, people under a lot of stress or experiencing frustrating circumstances can benefit from listening to angry music. While angry music might not help you if you’re in a normal mood, its aggressive tone can be beneficial when dealing with stressful, frustrating circumstances.

Three Songs to Burn off that Angry Energy

  1. Sabotage – Beastie Boys Hearing Ohhhhh I can’t stand it, I know you planned it immediately cues my head to start banging to the beat while I scream, I mean sing along.
  2. Killing in the Name of – Rage Against the Machine When this mama needs to just rage, turning this up in the car (alone) will let me scream ’til I’m hoarse. Nearly every moment of my life is planned, pulled in a million directions – mom, wife, case manager, Senior Director, and sometimes I don’t know if I can withstand just one more demand. Besides, who hasn’t wanted to scream at one time or another, F**k you, I won’t do what you tell me! Try it, it’s liberating.
  3. Roar – Katy Perry Admittedly I’m not a huge Katy Perry fan, I do love this song. Lyrics like You held me down but I got up/Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough will get your fist pumping.

sad songs say so much

I am not a crier. Even when I’m frustrated to tears, I am too stubborn to let them fall. Unless I’m alone behind the wheel of the car and the right song moves me. Then, I’ll ugly cry until I can barely breath and that feeling of calm washes over me.

  1. My Wish – Rascal Flatts I think this song embodies every parent’s wish, and there are many days I am not so sure most will be possible for my kiddo, hence the ugly cry.
  2. I Hope you Dance – Lee Ann Womack This is another one, that when I hear it, makes me think about my kids and the future. Cue the mascara-running (as if I actually put some on ha!)
  3. This is Me – Keala Settle (Greatest Showman) So empowering, yet hearing the lyrics makes it rain down my face every time. I am brave, I am bruised/I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.

For days I’m feeling introspective

Sometimes you just want to feel it. All of it. Roll around in it. And know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. Closer I am to Fine- Indigo Girls Seeking answers to life’s questions from several trusted sources leads to self discovery- And the less I seek my source for some definitive/The closer I am to fine Yep, it’s gonna be OK mama.
  2. Breathe (2AM) – Ana Nalick – Sometimes, it just is what it is – life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table/No one can find the rewind button, girl/So cradle your head in your hand/ and breathe, just breathe
  3. Somewhere only we Know – Keane I’m not sure if this song represents a longing, or whether it’s just sad, but somehow by the end, I feel like I’ve gone somewhere only we know, and feel better.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list – and that you’ll create your own feel-good playlist! Even with a hectic schedule, we can find 3 to 5 minutes to listen to a song. I believe it’s one key component to my mental health!

What about you? What songs would you add to the list? Comment below!

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