Nick Grimshaw: How music can help your wellbeing

This article was first published in March 2021

If you’ve ever had a good cry to a sad song or felt the urge to get up and dance when an awesome track comes on the radio, you’ll know that music can affect the way we feel. But can we use music to help us manage our moods and if so how?

Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw caught up with Professor Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster to find out how music can help our wellbeing.

Top takeaways:

- Music is good for many aspects of our wellbeing and we can see this through changes in our bodies when we listen to it. We can see changes in our stress response and also in our immune system and our heart-rate.

- Listening to music can help us with relaxation, regulating emotions, motivation, study and sleep.

- It will come as no surprise that if we want to lift our mood, it can help to play faster, more upbeat music, and calming, soothing, lullaby-type music helps if we want to relax or sleep, but it’s also very personal and what works for one person may not work for another: the key is to find what works for you.

- Music can help with studying, but it depends on your personality, what the task is and what music you’re listening to. If you’re doing artwork, lively, lyric-filled music may help, but if you’re writing an English essay, you might need something different or nothing at all. Some music can help with focus, but some can be too distracting for the task at hand.

- Playlists can get you started, but personal taste is important – make your own playlists for different things: relaxing, studying, exercising etc.

- Not everyone has an emotional reaction to music, but if you do, try experimenting with different types of music and see what works for you!

- Notice the effect that music is having on you as you listen to it. If it feels like it’s not helping you – for example if you’re feeling nervous or sad and music is making you feel worse, you might want to turn it off or change to something different.

- Always make sure you're aware of your surroundings when running or exercising outdoors. Music can be motivating, but it can also be distracting. Only use it if you can do so safely.

These playlists from BBC Radio One could help get you started:

- The Decompression Session

- Motivate Me Mix

If you need support

You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.

If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.

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