Mental health is a huge deal, but you probably already knew that as a musician. Professional musicians are especially prone to mental health problems, whether it’s feeling isolated and depressed on tour, or experiencing major anxiety because of financial problems. The good news is that the act of creating and sharing music delivers some powerful benefits that can support your mental health.
Helps process difficult experiences
When musicians go through tough times, they have the benefit of having new experiences to write music about. Whether you’re contending with a serious illness, a nasty breakup, or depression, creating music can be a deeply therapeutic action that alleviates pain and provides understanding. If you’re a feeling, breathing human being, life’s woes are inevitable. There’s a lot that’s out of your control, but how you respond to challenges is something you have a say over. Processing difficult experiences through music is a healthy strategy that can support your mental health during trying times.
Provides a creative outlet
If you’re a serious musician, it can be easy to forget that much of the non-musical world doesn’t have access to creative outlets. When you create, perform, and share your music, you have the benefit of putting your emotional energy to good use. Intense anger, joy, despair, and every feeling in between provide phenomenal inspiration for songs, and if you’re skeptical of this just listen to your favorite songs and pay attention to the emotions they express.
Offers opportunities for social connection
Chronic loneliness is one of the biggest problems facing modern society. People tend to have less opportunities to connect with one another as they age, especially in an age of remote work, screens, and pandemics. Music is a great excuse to get out of the house and connect with other human beings, whether it’s weekly band practice or performing live. Even if you create from home alone and collaborate with other musicians from time to time, you’re still connecting with other people in meaningful ways. Social connection isn’t the focus of music creation, obviously, but it’s something that can massively improve your mental health whether you play in a band for fun or are a professional songwriter.
Music gives people something to do. That might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Lots of people float through life with no real interests or purpose, but musicians don’t have that issue. Your mental health will be in a better spot if you have hope in your life, and music provides a great deal of hope. There’s always a chance to write a better song, put on a better performance, or create a better album. The pursuit of music truly is endless, and there’s really no limit to what you can accomplish if you commit to not giving up. Plus, there really is a chance your songs can help the people who listen to them whether you’re completely unknown or a famous musician. Music is a lifeline for people suffering through life’s toughest moments. You always hear people talk about the music they listened to when grieving over death or surviving their teens. Your music could be the inspiring and empathetic soundtrack during the most important moments of someone’s life.
Puts you in the driver’s seat
Many mental health issues come down to a person feeling they have no control over their circumstances. Making music is a chance for you to be in absolute control of whatever you make. You write the lyrics, craft the chord progressions, select the instrumentation, hammer out the percussion parts and bass lines. You don’t have a say over almost everything happening in the world, but when you create and perform, you’re in the driver’s seat, and this can be hugely empowering if you struggle with mental health issues. Music is also something that can be completely yours even if you’re young and inexperienced, or older with a non-musical career.
If you’re reading this you probably love creating and performing music and also already experience the mental health benefits that come along with them. In a time when so many people are struggling with depression, anxiety, and a plethora of other mental health issues, making music is a huge asset no matter your age, experience level, and background.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.