Everybody can relate, whether you struggle with mental illness or not: we all have our personal taste in music. But how can music help your brain?

Certain songs lift us up, and others provide us with an emotional expression of our sadness. When I am feeling blue, I give myself a chance to listen to sad songs and embrace the sucky feeling. But I like to follow it with something uplifting, to help pull me out of that bad mood. Listening to soft music helps me unwind from the day and fall asleep (the album Mental Illness by Aimee Mann is my go-to).

Some of the positive effects music has on the brain include:

  • reduction of depression
  • decreased anxiety
  • improved sleep
  • better memory
  • greater cognitive function
  • pain relief
  • lightened mood

Music has also been proven to alleviate symptoms of the following disorders:

  • Depression — alleviate your low mood state.
  • PTSD — process trauma and grief caused by the event.
  • Schizophrenia — regulate emotional disfunction.
  • Anxiety — calm tension in the mind and body.

On a personal level, having a MUSIC.BRAIN has really helped get me through difficult mental challenges. I would focus on music played on the radio to process the stress of being hospitalized for my mood disorder. I distinctly remember listening to Kendrick Lamar’s song Swimming Pools, and appreciating the lyrical honesty as I got sober. Singing also provided me with an emotional release during my psychosis, and took me back to the present moment.

My top 3 albums for helping me through difficult times are:

  1. Mental Illness by Aimee Mann (for getting a good night’s sleep)
  2. What is this Heart? by How to Dress Well (for relaxation and anxiety relief)
  3. Fallen by Evanescence (for when I really want to release my depression or anger)

How does music help you through tough mental health days? And what are some of your favorite songs for uplifting your spirits?

For more on how music improves your mental health, check out this article from the American Psychiatric Association.

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. — Bob Marley



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Joanna is an aligned vinyasa RYT-200 certified yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance. Joanna's mission is to bring the teaching of yoga to everybody in an accessible, welcoming and gentle way. Check out for services, blogs and updates on all things yoga. Namaste.

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