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  • Writer's pictureDefne

Music as a Coping Mechanism

I always wondered how artists wrote breakup songs. How do they manage to express all their emotions and feelings through simple words on a piece of a paper so effortlessly? Where do they find the motivation from? How do they find inspiration?

I never thought that I would write one myself. I never thought I was simply capable of coming up with something that would eventually build up to a whole picture of the mess I was feeling deep inside. The questions of "where" and "how" were answered cruelly, providing me with life lessons in a very painful way. But I should be thankful, shouldn’t I? If it was not for the heart-breaking experience, I would have not come up with a piece of my own I consider a masterpiece now. I might release my creation in the future, but for now, I rather keep it for myself as a reminder that nothing is impossible and things always happen for a reason despite the pain it may cause you.

How does music impact our wellbeing in scientifically?

A famous German musician and composer Johann Sebastian Bach once said, “It is the special province of music to move the heart”. It is not a surprise that music is a great source of amusement. Music alters our mood, relieves stress and anxiety, ensures comfort, helps to focus more and to express creativity, which most people do not recognise, completely ignoring the changes that occur from listening to music or playing a musical instrument.

Earlier, science could not prove that brain was able to change. However, as the science continued to advance along with the technology, the term “neuroplasticity” was discovered, indicating the potential of the brain to adapt and change as the consequence of experience, memories, and learning. One of the greatest advantages of music is its ability to improve the mental wellbeing of individuals. According to studies, music has a significant effect on the specific parts of the brain that are associated with a person’s feelings and emotional state. The parts that are accountable for passing the dopamine through neural pathways are influenced the most, which proves that music has the same effect on people as sweets and drugs. Modifications in the tempo and pitch, introduction to a musical instrument, harmonical changes and voice tend to result in activation of the emotional response. Moreover, a person’s body movements, such as head nods and foot taps, or any unconscious physical responses, including changes in heart rate and chills, impact the brain as well.

Music evokes the deepest feelings of individuals by matching their emotions with the songs through mirror neurons.

The behaviours and attitudes of other living beings are imitated by mirror neurons, which trigger several emotional responses in individuals whilst listening to music. This explains the reason people undergo musical activities to build a comfortable environment by reducing stress levels and experience the changes in mental states. Therefore, the two main musical components - tempo and mode - triggers both areas of the brain, which sense both pleasant and unpleasant states. The left frontal side is accountable for positive emotions, whilst negative states are activated by the right area.

Usually, higher key and fast tempo is categorised as "happy" music, whereas slower tempo in a minor key is associated not only with sadness, but with the feelings of romance and nostalgia, which also tend to improve a person's mental state.

Coping with stress through music

Stress is a state of physical reaction of individual in a pressured and threatened environment, which a person is unable to control or manage. It is a usual feeling that each of us goes through quite often, and coping with it is important to eliminate the negative consequences it might cause on health, behaviour, attitude, wellbeing, and overall performance. An increase in the levels of cortisol, which is the main stress hormone, leads to anxiety, stroke, and other mental problems.

As the studies demonstrate, music has a direct effect on the psychobiological stress system by decreasing the stress reactions and plays a remarkable part in the autonomic nervous system.

Best songs to listen to cope with sadness

  • Ceilings - Lizzie McAlpine

The song starts off slow and considerably quite, but as the song continues, the tempo and mode of the song changes, so does the melody along with instrumentals. The song opens with a nostalgic melody that encapsulates what it is to be young, and ends with a scared interpretation of reality.

  • Enough for you - Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo describes the songs as too personal because of the deep meaning behind the lyrics. The song describes everything she had done for her special person and how nothing was ever enough to be loved by him. "I knew how you took you coffee and your favourite songs by heart", "I read all of your self-help books so you'd think that I was smart" - are just a few of statements that show the pain of loving someone so deeply and knowing every little detail about him.

However, the pain of "not being enough" was not enough...she watched her significant other leave her for someone else, which is clearly shown in the song with "You found someone more exciting, the next second you were gone".

  • Love of my life - Harry Styles

Harry Styles is one of the greatest musicians in our generation, and as a major Harry Styles fan from 2011, "Love of my life" has been my favourite song to ever be released. Harry sings about longing for a significant person that disappeared from his life, whom he still considers the love of his life.

"Baby, you were the love of my life. Maybe you don't know what's lost till you find it. It's not what I wantеd, to leave you behind"


So was I ever enough? I do not know. I cannot answer this question, which is why I started my songwriting journey to understand how I truly felt. It was important to feel the pain and let go of that emotional baggage in order to grow.

Writing a song is not easy. Not at all. it takes courage, time, and energy by putting your soul into the lyrics with the idea that some might find it useful and relatable, helping them to get over their trauma, feel safe and connected, and finally realise that there is nothing wrong with feeling sad.

"I was scared to ruin the moment, which ruined everything we've had. The moment that ruined us. Us that never existed"


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