Paralyzed by worry.
Overcome with regret.
Fraught with rage.
Down in the dumps.
Have you ever felt stuck in an emotional state that you can’t seem to get out of? If you’ve felt this way before, you may have even wished that there was a way to turn these emotions off entirely.
With colder temperatures outside and fewer daylight hours, the winter months can be especially tough to trudge through. Just like the weather outside, we may often feel powerless to change the emotions we feel on the inside. Calling upon our favorite music, however, just might help us to transform the winter blues into a different sounding tune.
While seasons shift gradually, our inner emotional states can change rapidly, like the channels on a radio or a TV. Think of your mind as a radio. There is a vast and constant amount of information to digest and process. Sometimes we might get stuck on a certain song or station, hearing the same thing over and over. If you’ve experienced this kind of rumination or thought-looping before, you know it is an unwelcome and negative cycle. When this happens, anything that helps us to switch to a different channel can provide emotional relief.
Sometimes when we get in these entrenched states, it can be difficult to dig ourselves out. We may start listening to negative messages that have been internalized and deeply ingrained within our minds, (consciously or unconsciously) playing them on repeat. The good news, however, is that we actually have the power to shift our thinking. We have the ability to bring ourselves away from the destructive noise of our own cognitive distortions and into the sweet sounds of serenity.
Music can be a useful tool in helping to turn down volume on the (often irrational) song or story that’s being played incessantly. While muting the unpleasant tracks we’re so accustomed to hearing in our minds and boosting the sound on some uplifting tunes, our favorite music automatically becomes a natural mood enhancer.
- Plug back in When we feel disconnected or burnt out, listening music can help us to feel more grounded and aligned — physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. When we feel inspired or uplifted by the sound or the lyrics of a song, it can result in a truly profound experience. When we are moved by the music we hear, we gain a greater understanding about ourselves. With that comes the ability to foster a better sense of connection to other people and the world around us.
- Flip the Switch Much like meditation, putting on our favorite song or playlist can take our minds out of the vicious cycle of regret, worry, or fear, and help us to refocus our attention on the sound and rhythm of the song, even if just for a short while. Almost instantaneously, we have the ability to bring our minds away from the trap of its constant mental chatter, and into states of present moment awareness and enlivened being.
- Feel the Beat The mind and body are connected. Music often makes us want to move, inspiring us to dance or exercise. This helps release endorphins and serotonin in the brain, so we feel better and adopt a naturally more positive outlook. Combining music with movement is a potent way to improve your mood with the potential for long lasting effects.
Each of us may have different taste in music, but we all crave many of the same things, including happiness and belonging. Music can help us strengthen the bond we have with ourselves, and ultimately, with each other. While listening to our favorite music in solitude may be the perfect antidote, some people find that the energy and vibrations that abound at live music shows are powerfully therapeutic. No matter where you are, it’s important to remember, that if you’re feeling a particular emotion, you are surrounded by human beings everywhere who have felt that same emotion before.
All of these ideas depend on what works best for you and what makes you feel good. Not sure what music to put on? Try checking out Spotify and Soundcloud to explore new artists and songs that might be appealing to you.
Of course there is no magic remedy to alleviate all emotional pain when going through a difficult experience, but we can make small choices that add up over time to contribute to our overall well-being in a big way.
Just like the seasons, our emotions will come and go. If you’re having difficulty shifting out of a particular emotional state, grab that remote and switch the channel on your thoughts. Program your mind just like you would program your favorite radio stations and let the music guide you to a better place.