Music has a profound impact on human emotions and can play a significant role in emotion regulation. Emotion regulation refers to the ability to manage and modulate one’s emotional responses to different situations and stimuli. Music can influence emotion regulation in several ways.
How Our Listening Choices Affect Us:
Music for Mood Elevation
We can choose music that differs from the current mood that we are in with the hopes that the music will assist us in shifting from that mood to a different mood. For example, if we are angry, we can turn on classical music to relax us, or if we are feeling down we can turn on a pop song to lift our spirits.
Music for Catharsis
Sometimes, we need to release pent-up emotions. We can choose music that mirrors our negative mood in an effort to cope with negative feelings and lessen the intensity of the mood. It allows you to express and process your feelings, helping us regain emotional equilibrium.
For example, if we are feeling sad, we can turn on sad music that validates that we are not alone in feeling sad and allows us to connect and release those feelings. This strategy focuses on validation, feeling understood by connecting oneself to music, and being comforted by the music.
However, other times, this strategy can actually work against us and intensify negative emotions. In this case, it can be helpful to avoid music that mirrors our negative mood or that may intensify our already strong emotions.
How Our Listening Habits Affect Us:
Additionally, another factor that contributes to how music affects us when we experience an intense emotion is how often and how long we listen to the music. If we are listening to music that is extremely intense, has a negative tone, and/or harmful lyrics for hours a day, then it can make us feel worse. It can be beneficial to be conscious of our music choices, how often we are listening to music that mirrors our experiences, and how often we are listening to potentially unhealthy music as well.
Becoming conscious of our listening habits is the first step in being able to determine if listening to this kind of music is beneficial. This is because after you are able to recognize how often and how long you are listening to this music, you can then reflect on your overall mood after listening to it.
The lyrics of songs often tell stories or convey messages that resonate with our own experiences. It’s important to recognize how music can be complex and how our experiences with music can change throughout time. Music can take us back to particular moments in our lives, so listening to music with heavy lyrics can transport us mentally and bring up past memories. Additionally, listening to upbeat music can be associated with positive memories that can alter your mood in the moment. Take some time to reflect on your music choices if they are intensifying your current emotions or altering how you are feeling in the moment.
Now that we understand how music affects emotion, let’s explore some practical ways to use music for emotion regulation:
- Create Playlists: Curate playlists that cater to various emotional states. Have a collection of uplifting tunes for when you need a mood boost and also calming tracks for relaxation.
- Mindful Listening: Set aside time to listen to music mindfully. Focus on the lyrics, melodies, and emotions conveyed. This can be a meditative practice to help you become more aware of your emotions.
- Music as a Daily Ritual: Incorporate music into your daily routine. Start your day with energizing music and wind down with calming melodies in the evening.
- Learn an Instrument: learning to play an instrument can be a therapeutic way to engage with music and regulate your emotions.
Music is a versatile tool that can adapt to your emotional needs. So, the next time you find yourself riding an emotional rollercoaster, remember the power of music to harmonize your emotions and restore your internal balance.