Music and Mental Health: 5 Songs to Boost Your Mood

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Did you know that human beings are inherently musical? Scientists have even found sensitivity to key aspects of music like melody, rhythm, and dynamics in newborn babies. Many of us feel connected to music on a profound emotional and spiritual level. It moves us internally and externally, inspiring love, empathy, and happiness that resounds within us long after a jam session has come to an end.

Listening to music makes us feel seen and grounded. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, music has been shown to have psychological and physical benefits for listeners and creators of music alike. Here are five mood-boosting melodies and beats that can also serve as mental health mantras for your listening pleasure. I want to invite you to treat yourself to some relaxation by trying your best to be mindful and present with the music as you listen to the songs in this article. It can be a relaxing and enjoyable opportunity to boost your mood and mental health. May the music move through you from the moment you press play, bringing positive and peaceful vibrations.

“Breathe Deeper” Tame Impala

This funky and upbeat alternative pop jam is sure to have some part of your body moving by the time the lyrics slide around the track like a rhythmic ribbon at the 18-second mark. The keys that play in this magically galactic melody make you feel like anything is possible. I believe that this empowering feeling is what Tame Impala’s lead singer, Kevin Parker, wanted listeners to feel when vibing to this track. The title of the song and its lyrics seem to suggest that he believes he’s discovered the secret to coping with the craziness of life: breathing a little deeper. In the first line of the song, he smoothly sings the words, “If you think I couldn’t hold my own, believe me, I can.” He goes on to repeat, “believe me, I can”, two times as the percussion percolates with the chords and keys in a beautiful collaboration. Parker’s lyrics are not only self-affirming but uplifting to others as well. He goes on to sing, “If it ain’t so awful and we’re all together, I can.” Reminding us of the comforting truth that we are all connected and can access our highest selves by staying in tune with our breath.

“Jill Scott” Golden

This up-tempo r & b song with a jazzy, funky flair invokes feelings of joy and freedom in the souls of its many listeners. This record is a confident and clear declaration that Jill is truly committed to living her best life and appreciating it to the fullest. Knowing that it is more precious than gold. I can’t help but feel moved to do the same as her powerful and positive lyrics pierce through her vivacious vocals. “I’m taking my freedom. Taking it off the shelf. Putting it on my chain. Wearing it ‘round my neck.” With these bold bars Jill makes it clear that she is stepping into her own personal power.

Sometimes things like fears, doubts, and insecurities can cause us to put our freedom on a shelf. Whether that be the freedom to be our authentic selves or live our lives in ways that are beneficial to us. This track reminds us that it’s ok to prioritize ourselves and take back the freedom that many of us have put on the backburner for far too long. I also believe Jill was referencing the freedom to enjoy the present moment and stay tuned in to the higher power that lives within all of us. She soulfully sings, “I’m taking my own freedom. Can’t take it from me. I was born into it. It comes naturally.” These lyrics really struck a chord with me because it motivates me to stay connected to the unshakeable power that we all have access to when we are in the present moment. I hope it does the same for you!

“I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” By Hall and Oats

This next jam is from the 80s, a time that sonically seems to have been a great time for humanity. Some of the biggest hits in that area showed that people generally felt good and had no qualms about showing love to themselves and others. I believe we need more of that these days, so when I need a little taste of this terrific time in history, I play this track. This sassy and cool beat is good enough to eat. Even though the song’s title has words of negation like “can’t and “no”, it’s a “pro-boundaries” mental health mantra. Mental health specialists widely agree that healthy boundaries are essential to living a more positive life. With limited time, resources, and energy in this fast-paced capitalistic society, we all must set boundaries for different people and things in our lives so that we have quality time to ourselves. We all need this time to rest, relax, and do the things that matter to us most.

When we take this time, we can show up for the people that matter to us the most in better ways. Sometimes, saying “no” or what we “can’t” do is still difficult for many of us. We may not want to let others down or struggle to limit ourselves when it comes to doing a certain thing that is detrimental to our well-being. Playing this funky, retro pop jam will at least make you feel better about saying “no” to whatever and whoever you need to in your life. You can set that boundary boldly while bopping to this musical mental health mantra. You might even want to inflect your voice higher and hold the note like Hall and Oates do on this track when you tell them “no”. Go for it! I just wouldn’t recommend responding to your employer this way when they ask you if you can work on the 4th of July. They can be real tight asses sometimes.

“You Get What You Give” New Radicals

Now on to another amazing era for music, the 90’s, which gave us this radically rocking, musical mental health mantra. The steady strum of the happy and harmonious major guitar chords blends perfectly with this classic rock beat. Then the electric guitar bursts through right before the lead singer and seems to zap out any trace of melancholy with its musical power. It’s like a jolt of jubilation. The melody of this song has so much ostinato, which is a music term for that thing that makes some songs so damn catchy. The chords, drums, electric guitar, and melody make me feel like I took a party pack of dopamine and serotonin. Those of us who manage mental health conditions like depression and anxiety know that it is a battle sometimes. I first heard this song on one of those hard days and after listening to it, I remember feeling as if some higher power reached out and gave me a hug.

The potent and painfully pure vocals of the New Radicals sing supportive messages and affirmations throughout the chorus. “Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you.” This reminds us to stay strong and to keep in mind that we have a force as powerful as music in us in our cores. When the circumstances of life get us down and caught in feelings of hopelessness, this song reminds us to hold on and keep going, knowing that we have what it takes to make it safely through the storm and recover from it if we need to. I also love the reminder that we are responsible for our own happiness with the title as the spirited singers of the band repeatedly belt out: “you only get what you give.” It motivates me to stay positive and be resilient when life is really getting its life on, and I hope it does the same for you!

“One Hand in My Pocket” Alanis Morrissette

The first two lines of these lovely lyrics and blissful beat speak to my soul and make me feel like maybe I’m going to survive the shitstorm we all know as capitalism. “I’m broke, but I’m happy. I’m poor but I’m kind.” It’s a reminder that we can be wealthy in spirit and love even when our bank accounts are looking frail. The major chords in this song are like majestic massagers for your inner spirit. Helping you release stress and feel a sense of safety while you listen to it. It’s got a hippy-rockish, dancing barefoot in your yard while swinging your hair with a spliff in your hand kind of vibe. I’m obsessed with it. It always makes me feel seen and less weird about being a dynamic, messy, and complicated human being. This song feels like an ode to radical self-acceptance as Alanis lays all her qualities, flaws, and insecurities out bare in this optimistic tune.

The peace of sitting in that self-acceptance and owning all that is you is evident when she sings, “What it all comes down to. Is that I haven’t really got it figured out just yet. But I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is giving a high five.” Reminding us to keep cheering ourselves and each other on in times of uncertainty. By embracing the uncertainty and loving ourselves regardless, everything’s gonna be “fine, fine, fineeeee” as Alanis Morrisette assures us with her timeless and honest lyrics. Honesty with ourselves and others isn’t always easy, but it helps us to show up as our best, authentic selves in the world. This will help us to plant the seeds to grow and improve the lives of ourselves and anyone that we connect with. Like tending to a plant, our mental health needs consistent care, attention, time, and love. Music is a fantastic way to reinforce our mental health journey and make us feel validated in how we feel and what we are going through.

What are your thoughts on these songs’ mood-boosting abilities? Or just the power of music to help with mental health in general? I hope that you felt the good energy coming through your speakers!

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I'm a millennial mental health advocate and writer. In addition to all things mental health, I enjoy writing about spirituality and sharing my experiences with a touch of humor because it really is an antidote and an anesthesia to help us cope with the calamity of life!

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