Thursday, June 6, 2013

Using music to alter your mood

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. It happens to most of us at some point, but with a history of depression I tend to be quite aware when the gloomy thoughts take over. I use “in the moment” meditation techniques to break the cycle of negative thinking (such as “I feel the ground beneath my feet; feel the posture of my body”) because your body is always in the present moment. If you bring your mind to your body then you can break free from the negative monologue in your head.

This is something that needs to be done repetitively and is helpful to re-write the synapses in your brain. If you’ve had depression before then the repetitive negative thinking you experienced creates pathways in your brain that re-fire when you feel depressed. Hence the ‘cycle’ that you can become aware of (see the movie “What The Bleep“ if you want this explained beautifully).

Returning to the now IS helpful but it can also become tiring if you need to do it constantly (if the negative thoughts keep coming). What I’ve discovered, and now use as a secondary technique is upbeat music. Music has a profound effect on my mood; I used to know this subconsciously when I would listen to The Carpenters for hours when I was depressed. There’s nothing like Karen wailing her sad songs to keep you wallowing in depression!

With this awareness I now keep my mp3 in my bag and plug in my head phones whenever I need to. I did this on my way in to work this morning and changed a drab dark mood into an upbeat one, simply by playing tunes that made me smile or made me want to dance. You can’t be depressed when you’re dancing! I did have to sift through my songs so I think I’ll start an upbeat playlist called ‘happy tunes’ for a faster result next time.

Think back to the old songs that already have happy memories associated with them. When you’re in a dark place this won’t be easy but you may hear a great song somewhere and remember how happy it makes you feel, so note it down and add that tune later. ‘Brim full of Asha’ did that for me this morning, I mean, how can the lyrics “Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, everybody needs a bosom” NOT make you smile?

What music makes you smile or dance?

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