Judith Pinkerton’s article Music for Mental Fitness was recently published on Recovery.org, where she is a regular contributor talking about music therapy. The following is an excerpt of that article…
Music for Mental Fitness: Mood Control
- Aggressive music calms me down.
- EDM makes me happy.
- Music is my therapist because the song understands me.
- I’m reminded of what I don’t want to do in the lyrics.
- Music connects me to loved ones who have died.
- My anxiety calms down when I listen to music.
Are these music listening responses indicators of strong or weak mental fitness? no matter the age it is important to feel and stay helathy, check for 6 Ways to Help Seniors Stay Physically Active as They Age.
If your moods are being effectively controlled with periodic listening, then your music listening habits may support mental fitness. If you find yourself constantly self-medicating with music to make sure your moods stay controlled, then your music listening habits may only temporarily relieve the pressure of unsettled moods, such as anxiety, anger, loneliness or sadness. Your mental fitness may be weak as you attempt to control these moods, which may quickly escalate out of control – exploding or imploding. Sadly, we see daily evidence of moods out of control with violent outbursts, abuse, suicide, and the substance abuse epidemic.
Psychology Today reports that mental fitness requires three crucial components for psychological or emotional fitness: affirmation, visualization, and relaxation.
The music’s energy mixing ten musical elements, with or without lyrics, can stimulate all three of these areas for optimum mental and emotional fitness, also known as “EQ” or “emotional intelligence.” In fact, when music is intentionally used for effective emotional regulation, improved emotional intelligence is possible. And higher “EQ” is desired by employers who measure mental fitness and emotional intelligence through hiring interviews and performance evaluations.
Improved “EQ” is a sign of controlling moods effectively, thus building mental fitness. Successfully controlling moods indicates anxiety, anger, loneliness and sadness are significantly reduced on a regular basis with peace and happiness liberated continually.
Conversely, unsettled moods out of control may be fueled by instinctive music listening habits. When we instinctively listen to music we match our state of mind or mood. And if that mood is unsettled, music may stir undesirable memories or associations with people, places, or things, and escalate anxiety, anger, loneliness or sadness. Out of control moods, fueled by music, may directly or indirectly trigger substance abuse.
If already challenged with self-medicating through drugs or alcohol, there are two ways music may trigger relapse when trying to control moods: the direct path or the indirect route.
- Certain songs can directly trigger immediate physical craving for the alcohol or drug of choice.
- Music can fuel the unsettled mood which becomes unbearable to the point of craving the alcohol or drug of choice to numb the mood.
There are danger zones with certain music listening habits. It could be that problematic unsettled moods become so prevalent that a level of tolerance is achieved. Along with that tolerance, a different perception of that mood may exist. When this happens, I developed a theory in working with thousands of patients diagnosed with substance use disorders.
It could be that problematic unsettled moods become so prevalent that a level of tolerance is achieved. Along with that tolerance, a different perception of that mood may exist. ~ JUDITH PINKERTON
It appears that a Chronic Unsettled Comfort Zone™ may steer music listening habits into triggering substance abuse. This danger zone becomes a more insidious condition to recognize, accept and transform.