Music and Emotions

Music in this household is a necessity, if the world stopped we’d be the ones singing around the campfire trying to keep music alive as best we can. I personally use music to change or feed my mood, to help me sleep or help me concentrate, I have music I clean to (as does my husband – he uses Meatloaf) and music to sing to. Music is incredibly important to me, to us. If you read the precursor to this post you’ll have an idea of what I’m aiming to achieve with this post, but just in case you haven’t here is an bit of backstory and an explanation.

Firstly, this is not in anyway meant to be a study, research or anything other than an informal discussion about how music affects us. Should it ever make it to being a study, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Recently my youngest called me to ask me a question, on speaker phone, in front of her friends. Awkward but nice she considers my opinion to be so important. The question I was asked was does depressing music make you more depressed, or make you feel better, one of the boys she was debating this with swore that it made you more depressed and that you shouldn’t listen to it if you have depression because it makes you worse. He also stated she was a counsellor or similar and therefore knew what she was talking about, to which my daughter very proudly, and rather misguidedly announced that her mum is a psychologist. For those interested, I am not registered with the BPS or anyone else and do not call my self a psychologist – nor will I until I can afford to register. I pointed this out to her and also explained that a large proportion of what we believe we know when it comes to mental health is still theory, and that theories change, paradigms shift. That said I also believe that how music affects you is a personal thing, not necessarily something easily generalised. So there you have it, there’s the backstory to this post and now to get down to business.

Music Preference

Music preference is something that is different for everyone, often influenced by music heard in earlier years, tastes are usually fairly varied and cover a large spread of styles. Of course everyone knows someone who “hates” music types that differ from their preferences and judge people based on this. In many cases it’s best to ignore these people, your taste in music is yours and yours alone, no one else needs to have an opinion on it. Recently a few questions on the subject were shared on social media, the main aim to see how musical preference and emotions reflect against each other. Although it was a very small collection of individuals who responded, the responses were interesting, one individual (blogger Losingatjumanji) described music as “how I feel things, it’s how I celebrate or grieve. I put on music happy or sad depending on the mood and I sing it so loud my neighbours can hear and I often cry. But it’s how I deal with things.” Suggesting that some individuals feel music is cathartic, allowing them to vent emotions and experience them as is needed. From the point of view of depression, this may be used to release the emotions associated that may otherwise boil over. However it is easy to see how some individuals may find that it can almost be overwhelming to have to deal with depressing or negative forms of music when experiencing emotional issues. In those instances, the question is how this could be represented in their preferences. Most responders agreed that music tastes were influenced by their mood, with a mix between those who chose to listen to the music that they associated with that emotion. S. Quinton described his musical tastes by emotion “Happiness; Power metal/pop-punk/ska punk, Anger: Trash/speed/Nu/Black metal Depression; Doom/Goth /black metal”, aiming specifically to channel the emotions using the music, while N. Kimmage-Mosby (author) stated that her choices in music were influenced often by the mood of the writing she was doing, a cheerful piece of music would, in a practical sense, not give off the correct mood to write an emotionally fraught scene. While others had a genre overall they preferred but that their choice of music was still to a degree affected by their mood, L. MacDonald preferred to always listen to upbeat cheerful music, which could be beneficial when trying to lift ones mood, while S. Davies gave her preference for jazz though still leaning towards different forms of jazz depending on her mood. While a generalisation could not be made with so little data, it is clear that, at least to some people, musical preference is influenced in some way, by their mood.

Music Therapy

So what is music therapy, and what does it have to do with emotions and preferences? According to an interview on the University of Minnsota’s website, with  Dr. Annie Heidersheit, “music therapy is the use of music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of a group or individual.” Using different methods, from listening to participating in music, it is used to distract the mind, allowing the mood to be altered and behaviour to be influenced. Music has been shown in studies to have a positive affect on the emotional well-being of patients in palliative care (Black, Zimmerman & Rodin, 2017), where by participants took part in actively listening to music either played or sung by the therapist. Of course this isn’t the only research into music and emotion, having only had a small search I have found two studies that examine the relationship between mood and musical preference, the first (McFerran, Garrido, et al, 2014), who looked at teenagers mood management and music preferences in Australia, I won’t go into heavy details, but the findings suggested that although their taste in music was influenced by their mood, preferring heavier, angry music, such as metal, there was no evidence to suggest that this music had any more of a negative effect on their mood in comparison to other forms of music. A study by Thoma, Ryf, et al (2010) looked at it from the point of view as to whether mood could affect the musical choices made, their findings suggested that in fact, individuals often chose music in order to regulate or induce certain emotions. What does this mean? With this little information not much, but does imply that perhaps, rather than the music increasing negative emotions or influencing moods in a negative manner, that in fact, individuals who are suffering or struggling seek out music that can either induce a different mood, or that reflects the emotions they’re already feeling.

As a more personal note I myself choose my music in order to induce a mood, I even have specific playlists for my moods, the research here isn’t enough to form an official opinion that could be generalised, perhaps one day I’ll do a proper meta-analysis on this subject, though if I do I promise not to bury you in stats. As it stands, what I’ve seen and read so far is enough for me to stand by my initial reaction, I do not think that negative or depressing music has a detrimental affect on moods, and if it does help with mood regulation, then it is well worth listening to it. Choose your music and enjoy it.

Examining the relationship between self-reported mood management and music preferences of Australian teenagers

 

Understanding Music and Mental Health – pre-cursor

Okay people, I know there aren’t many of you following this blog but if you have the time I’d like to ask you a question or two. Recently my daughter got into a discussion with a friend over whether or not depressed people should listen to “depressing” music. Now, personally I find it can have a cathartic affect of helping me vent my emotions so I’m all for it, if it helps. Said friend swore that his mum (a counsellor I believe) said it would make you more depressed. This has obviously sparked my interest into what the effects are of music on mental health, and how our mental health can affect our tastes in music. Now I know what kids are like and how they hear half a sentence and run with it, so she may not have actually said that, that said I’m now researching papers and journals to see what the relationship between music and emotion is so here are my questions.

  1. Do you have a preference for a specific type of music?
  2. Is this affected by your mood?
  3. If yes, what types of music do you choose to go with happiness, anger and depression?
  4. Have you ever taken part in music therapy?
  5. Did it help you in any way?

That’s it. This is not an official study, so I won’t be collecting and analysing your responses or anything, this is a matter of curiosity at most.

This is a blog post, sponsored by Chianti wine….

I don’t know what my plan was with writing this, but I wanted to talk to you about dreams. I have dreams, we all do I think, whether we are aware of it or not, I often joke one of mine is to build a hippy commune. Land where people grow their food, live together but with freedom and privacy, so not in your face all the time 😉. Surrounded by trees and flowers, natural water and so on, I’m aware of the cost, nothing like this could be cheap, but I often question what the cost is living the way we do. How many people do you know with a mental health issue? Anxiety? Depression? Are these man made issues? Caused by how we live? Maybe. It’s hard to tell, but I know I dream of a day where I live in a hobbit hole or a tiny house, with animals around me, no rushing to a 9 to 5, no stressing over bills and debts but helping others, having a home I love and sharing it with those I’m closest too. What could be better?

Daily Fail – Don’t be a manrepeller

The Daily Mail strikes again. I don’t normally bother to comment on things like this, quite frankly I prefer to avoid any drama in my online life, as day to day carries plenty of it’s own. Not to mention people behind the keyboard are far more open to abuse, but I have to say, as articles go, this one is more than a little irritating. To me, it’s along the same lines those magical ones telling you what you’re too old/young/ to wear/read/drink etc. I decorate the way I like, yes I take into account my husbands tastes (I wouldn’t want to traumatise him) but otherwise I choose what I like, because just that.

How many women decorate their homes to “attract a man”? Is that even a thing now? According to the Daily Mail the wrong decor makes your home a manrepeller and quite frankly this whole article feels like a joke, I half expected it to be dated April 1st but I was sadly mistaken.

dail fail

I wholeheartedly agree when the author says “I’m not going to change my decor just because a date has different tastes.”, and so she shouldn’t, if you’re moving in with someone then compromise is definitely the way to go, but if your tastes in wallpaper or your interest in having images of women around you puts him off, is he perhaps not the right person for you? She talks of how the coach doesn’t like her cactus (too spiky?!) and the fact she doesn’t like the fridge magnets, which only serves to leave me curious as to what they were? Liz, what are your fridge magnets? I need to know!

Some of the twitter responses have been amazing, I have to say I laughed when I saw @PNWwriting stating that your books are not a manrepeller but a “screening tool” (https://goldhaber.net/, https://twitter.com/PNWwriting); I couldn’t agree with you more. If I tried to get rid of our books I think my husband would be very disappointed in me, and as for depressing titles, most of my shelves are horror or murder mystery, cheerful isn’t a typical title style in that genre, does it put men off me? Clearly not as I’ve been married for nearly 15 years.

I’m not going to sit here and say that you shouldn’t change your home, or declutter – clutter drives me mad, I even tried the KonMari method, which has really helped me clear clutter in my kitchen and our clothing but has not helped at all with books or board games. They all bring us joy, and are often re-read, so I guess they’re staying. But I do think if you need to change, if you need to alter your home/clothes or style in general, in order to attract a man, then you’re probably not attracting the right man for you?

I’m not a fan of the Daily Mail, honestly I think Liz could find a better place to work, that said, I think it only fair you be allowed to read the article for yourself, how do you feel being told you should change your home if you want to attract a man?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6688899/How-avoid-turning-home-manrepeller.html

And to see some of the posts on twitter referring to this, I have done the search for manrepeller for you 😉

https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&q=manrepeller&src=typd

Trying To Motivate Myself

For those of you who know, I’m a WW (formerly Weight Watchers) coach, I’m not working at the moment because I managed to hurt myself, but we’re working on that and I’m hoping to be back at work soon. To be fair, work have been incredibly patient and understanding so I’m looking forward to going back rather than dreading it. That said I have gained weight while I’ve been off work, a combination of not being able to work out to my usual level, eating whatever because I was bored and then Christmas adding to the food and stress issues. This means that I am somewhat over my goal weight and need to lose the weight again.

Of course there are those that say I don’t need to lose weight, but only I know how being bigger makes me feel, how much pain it causes with my back and hip and how much it will upset me if I have to go back up a clothes size. I’m not one to tell other people to lose weight, it’s not my place to tell you that you need to lose, it’s your choice and in this instance, it’s my choice to work to lose the weight I’ve gained. Unfortunately I have been struggling to motivate myself, so when I stumbled on my still empty journal this morning, I decided the universe was telling me to sort myself out and stop whinging. After all, if I’m not happy with my weight, then the only person I can blame, and the only person who can fix it, is me. If you’re on the same journey you can find me in connect under the name Pinklilith, but anyway, I digress. My goal weight is 11st, that puts me nicely in a healthy BMI bracket and means my clothes will be comfortable again. Before you tell me BMI isn’t relevant because it doesn’t take into account muscle mass, I am not an athlete so it’s good enough for me, I don’t have that much muscle to worry about right now anyway.

So here is my then and now photo, except my current now is somewhere in between these two, I’d like to get back to the “now” picture, if you get my meaning.

then now

In fact I’d like to be fitter and healthier than I was in that picture, so this is me, telling you, holding myself accountable. I’m keeping track of my foods, but I don’t do cutting things out completely, so we had low fat sausages, with root veg chips for tea, a slice for cake my daughter made which was about 6sp (albeit for a small slice) and now I have an Options hot chocolate for my evening treat. I will keep you updated if you’re interested. Anyone else looking to lose? What method do you find works best for you? Are you  a WW member too? I’d love to hear from you!

 

P.S This is not a request for you to sell me your weight loss plans/gadgets/pills/drinks etc. By all means share your journey, but be genuine or don’t bother.

Approaching other people’s children.

Approaching a child in a public place is something that happens regularly, for both good and bad reasons. There are times when it’s ok (such as when they appear lost or need assistance) and times when it’s not, but what about those less obvious situations? I’m not talking about those clear cut situations when it really isn’t or really is ok as most of us can spot those but what about the random ones? Those moments when someone tells your child off for you, or asks them questions.

Personally if my child was being particularly bad and someone commented or told them not to play me up I’d probably appreciate the assistance, if they were not misbehaving in my eyes and someone commented or told them off I might feel the need to ask them to back off. These can be fairly personal choices.

The question came to mind recently after I got a call from my daughter who was at the local supermarket and she had been approached by a complete stranger to ask where her mum was. Just to clarify my kids are not little kids, they’re teens and are taller than many of the adults I know. When my daughter responded with “at home” the person asked her why she was there by herself, I didn’t ask my daughter what she responded with but knowing her it will have been something obvious like “Um…shopping”. The question I’m asking is, am I wrong in thinking this interaction isn’t appropriate? I don’t know who the person was and it’s possible that it was someone who did know me, but even so, is it ok to demand answers from a teenager about why they’re out on their own, in the middle of a non-school day? I don’t even messages friends kids, I message the parents and ask them to ask their child, it’s not my child, so it’s not my place.

This isn’t the first time this question has come up, if you encountered a stranger talking to your child, asking questions, how would you react? What about if an adult friend was messaging them? However innocently? Let me know your opinions.

How do you de-stress and relax?

It’s Sunday today, a day we lovingly call PJ Sunday, this is because every other day of the week we have something to do, to sort out, somewhere to go or people to see. Sunday is our day of rest. We aren’t religious, it’s just that as an adult, having spent years whinging as a teenager about how everything is shut on Sunday etc, I have now realised that it’s actually important to have a day where you do nothing. Finding time to relax, on any day of the week, it can be 10 minutes or it can be two hours, your choice. Why do I say this? Well the obvious answer is that stress makes us sick, it affects people in a variety of ways, from not eating to comfort eating, insomnia to oversleeping and excess tiredness, apathy or even outright anger. Stress can put your blood pressure and heart rate up (putting your heart under extra stress) while relaxation can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, help you feel calmer, which in turn helps you have a healthier sleep pattern. And it continues from there, a better sleep pattern improves your mood, helps you control your eating habits better, stops you from becoming angry or anxious and in turn makes you more resilient to stress. So why wouldn’t you want to de-stress and relax? Here are a few of the options I’ve found help me, and my lot, feel calmer and generally happier people.

Starting with the basics

There are so many sites telling you how you are meant to relax and destress, but that doesn’t make it right for you so here we’re breaking it down into categories. The first is the basics, these are things that most people will feel comfortable doing and probably do or at least used to do, on a regular basis.

  • Listen to music
  • Indulge in a hobby = colouring, drawing, writing, video games, reading
  • Veg out – binge a TV show, watch your favourite movie, just curl up on the sofa and let the story take you away.
  • Go for a walk, it can be a short walk or a long walk, it just needs to allow you to clear your head and get some fresh air.
  • Have a bath or shower, take your time, if you like to do beauty routines or pamper yourself then you can do that or combine two things and take a book in the bath – just don’t drop it.

But what else is there?

Relaxation techniques

Make sure you have somewhere quiet to do this where you won’t be disturbed every few minutes.

  • Breathing – there are a lot of breathing techniques that work for some and not for others, but even just closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing can help, don’t feel bad if you fall asleep – you probably needed it. You can do this by simply placing a hand on your stomach and focusing on the movement of your stomach as you slowly inhale and exhale.
  • Meditation – you can find guided meditation all over the internet, just find the best choices for you. This could just be to relaxing music, clearing your mind and focusing on breathing and keeping your mind clear – this is not as easy as it sounds. You can also use guided meditation where a voice talks you through the process. If you’re a WW member and you have the app there is Headspace included in your app. Otherwise try YouTube, iTunes or Google Play to find free apps or videos.
  • Muscle relaxation – this can be done along side the breathing and the music if it suits you. One way of doing this (taught to me when I was just 18) was to lie somewhere comfortable and focus on each part of your body, consciously relaxing each part. Starting with your toes, move onto your feet, your ankle, your calf muscle, knees, thighs, fingers, hands etc. And just keep going until you reach your head, again you need to ensure you won’t be distracted when doing this as it doesn’t take much to tense up again if you get disturbed frequently.

For more relaxation techniques check out the NHS inform²

Quick Fixes

These are for those moments that you don’t have time to stop, lie down and count shapes, or relax muscles individually. Maybe you don’t have time to stop and do colouring and you have to fit it in somewhere in your day. Obviously depending on how much time we are talking here, you still have your options.

  • Walking – yes we mentioned this earlier, but if you’re on your lunch break, find a place where you can walk to and eat in peace – avoid eating at your desk as much as possible – it will only stress you out more. Even if you just decide to take a two minute walk around the building to give yourself a break from being sat in one place it’s worth doing.
  • Creative Visualisation or to the rest of us, day dreaming. Okay technically this is just for relaxation but can be used to visualise what you want to achieve in life (something I’ve seen mentioned when talking about the law of attraction etc) or a goal you’re working towards, or perhaps something you are trying to design or create. But it also has it’s uses in helping to relax you, take a few minutes to make up a scenario in your head that can bring you joy, perhaps you’re imaging getting that publishing deal and becoming a writer, or winning the lottery. Maybe you want to visualise a place that brings you joy, your parents house, a place you visited with a loved one. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is something that leaves you feeling better, calmer or a little happier.
  • Play a song – again back to music, but if you have a song you love that cheers you on put it on, don’t have anything to play it on, hum it or sing it in your head, once you get those lyrics following you will find the mood that you get from hearing it will kick in just as if you heard it.
  • Laughter – this one may require other people, but not always. Spend a minute or two watching videos of crazy cats, look up the outtakes from your favourite show. Better still, if you’re with other people, chat about something that will make you laugh, laughter, as well as being a sign of joy, actually improves your mood. Research has shown that even pretending to smile can help reduce stress and will help cheer you up³. So find something to laugh about.
  • Focusing – on small things, counting backwards forces you to focus on what you’re doing and stops your mind racing, counting things around you can also have a similar effect if you need something to help distract you. You may have seen it used in season 2 of the Punisher (Netflix), where the therapist tells Russo to count 5 blue things in the room, it forces you to stop focusing on the thing that’s making you panic and take in what’s around you.

I hope this helps you find a few ways to de-stress, let’s make 2019 a little easier for all of us.

 

  1. Dusek, J. A. & Benson, H (2009) Mind-body medicine: a model of the comparative clinical impact of the acute stress and relaxation responses.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19552264
  2.  https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/preventing-falls/fear-and-anxiety-about-falling/relaxation-techniques
  3. Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman. Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress ResponsePsychological Science, 2012 (in press) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120730150113.htm