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Kathryn Diaz Therapist Music

We’ve all been in a bad mood from time to time. There is any number of different reasons why you might have been down, but one constant unites us all – we all put on a song or two to cope. Maybe you put on a sassy breakup song to help you get over your ex, maybe you put on some sad music and had yourself a good mope, or maybe you put on your favorite song for a bit of a pick me up. “Music soothes the savage beast,” and however savage your feelings might have been, you’re sure to have tried to soothe them with some music.

But what’s the effect of that psychological coping strategy, and what can we take away from it?

Solace, Diversion, and Discharge

There is nothing revolutionary about suggesting that music can affect your mood. What’s more, there’s nothing new about arguing that different types of music can have different effects on your mood. We don’t need a doctor to tell us that we feel different emotions listening to today’s teen pop stars than “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

What science does tell us is the specific ways in which music affects our psyche, which is as follows:

  • Solace: “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” which is why we listen to them for solace during times of distress. Sad about “Yesterday?” Listening to the song may help you feel that someone else is, too, which can help you feel less alone, which in turn can have a tangible impact on your psyche.
  • Diversion: Then again, maybe you’re sick of feeling down and want to “Play That Funky Music” and feel that “Uptown Funk” instead. Diversion songs help us ease psychological trouble by diverting attention and thus fuel from those anxieties and negative emotions.
  • Discharge: So, you’ve broken up with someone, they don’t know what they’re losing, and you want music to match how you feel? Whether you declare “I Will Survive” or tell them hey, you’re “Just Somebody I Used to Know,” you’re engaging in Discharge music listening when you choose songs which match and help you discharge certain emotions as a healthy outlet for them.

The Takeaway

So, what can we take away from all of this? That music is a coping mechanism, so you need to cope properly. If you’re feeling down, downer music won’t lift you back up.

If you’re down, you’re only doing yourself harm listening to “Look What You Made Me Do” on repeat.

But then that goes for listening to that song under any circumstances.