Why Song Lyrics Can Ease Your Mind

Research has shown time and time again that music is great for your mind, body, and soul. Listening and finding meaning in the stories that musicians craft through their lyrics can also provide new perspectives.

Personally, music has always been a reminder that I am not alone in my struggles. I might have casually listened to a song for years, but upon diving into the lyrics, it’s amazing how strong the emotional connection to the song can be.

Artists such as Twenty One Pilots, Imagine Dragons, Queen, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have all made a huge, positive impact on my life during times I didn’t think I could get through. By writing poetry and adding a catchy beat to their own experiences we’re reminded of just how complex everyone’s life can be. We tend to forget that others often struggle with a lot of the things we do.

So, can focusing on the lyrics in music affect our wellbeing? It’s a question scientists have looked at:

  • While some dismiss rap and hip-hop music as too violent, a study from Cambridge University’s Department of Psychology found that rap featuring upwardly mobile lyrics could actually help those experiencing mental health issues by helping them visualize and achieve their goals. Through lyrical spoken words, people are able to imagine a better life.
  • The link between lyrics and kids’ behavior has been extensively studied, with research pointing to an association between certain types of lyrics with increased substance abuse and other risky behaviors, as well as depression and even suicide.
  • Music therapy is a growing field of study. There are many benefits of music therapy, including restoration of lost speech, pain relief and reduced side effects from cancer therapy.

The Boston Public Health Commission has even created a tool that helps users determine how “healthy” their song choices are based on a set of criteria that judges the words in the song’s title and lyrics.

It’s clear that song lyrics in music have power. Author John Green put in my mind words I’ve begun to live by, “imagine others complexly.” Give it a try next time you listen to a new song.

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Photo Credit: Kara Middleton

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