Help My Teenager: Music as a Stress Reliever

Whether you're feeling emotional, overwhelmed, anxious, motivated, inspired, or invigorated: chances are, there's a song playing in the back of your mind or on the radio that helps you navigate every situation.

Fell out with your best friend? There's a song for that.

Had a fight with your spouse? There's definitely a song for that.

Lost a loved one? There's thousands of songs for that.

Listening to music can help us navigate the toughest of times, and the best of times... but what about helping with those stressful moments in life? Or - specifically - with helping your teenager?

There are multitudes of ways that music can help your teenager navigate stress and anxiety, but today I want to discuss three:

  • The act of listening to music

  • The art of writing music

  • The power behind performing music

Let's break it down:

Listening to Music

Listening to music offers so many benefits to the listener. Whether your teenager listens to relaxing music [think Enya, Enigma, Morcheeba, or Portishead], hip-hop [think Dre, Biggie, Wu-Tang or Xhibit]. "calming music" [such as wholetones or classical music]: the simple fact is this: music can help stimulate the nervous system in such a way that activates our dopamine and oxytocin levels to the point that the listener is filled with positive energy, a sense of connection, and a newfound confidence to take on the world.

At the same time: listening to music has been found to lower levels of cortisol [also known as the stress hormone]: leaving the listener feeling more relaxed, present, and less anxious. According to an article in Inc Magazine: "neuroscientists out of the UK have specified which tunes give you the most bang for your musical buck... [music that is] carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener's heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol."

In other words: the simple act of listening to music - relaxing music, calming music, classical music... it all can facilitate our need to relieve stress [or at least reduce stress], increase our mental health, and decrease cortisol [our stress hormone] levels: which can significantly increase our risk of heart disease and other health complications... but that's a topic for another blog some other day.

To bring this point home when it comes to your teenager, your child, the sun and moon of your life... by encouraging your young person to engage in music: you are offering them a lifeline to not manage their stress and anxiety, but recognize that by managing their mental health: you're also providing them with a tool to potentially prevent them from self harming. The psychological health of young people - especially post-2020 - has been incredibly fragile, and listening to music can help your teenager quite literally work through, and overcome their stress and anxiety, because of the impact of music on the brain.

But that's simply the act of listening to music. Now, let's discuss how...

The Art of Writing Music can Help

The positive effects of songwriting on a person's mental health is incredible.

Not only does writing music lead to the same stress reduction that we get from listening to music, but the act of writing a song has multiple other benefits, gifting the songwriter with:

  • the tools to identify specific issues, trigger points, and stressors

  • the ability to create their own masterpiece that lowers their stress hormones, anxiety levels, heart rate [and subsequent heart health issues]

  • an effective methodology for expressing and overcoming their pain, emotional struggles, and even depression

  • a creative solution to healthily communicate with their friends and family about their mood, emotional needs, mental health, stress and anxiety.

  • the opportunity to understand their own mental health first before safely challenging themselves to cognitively reframe disempowering thoughts, stress, anxiety, and other emotional pain points.

With the right guidance and tools: songwriters have the ability to breakdown the specific issues that are leading them to experience anxiety in the first place [using a method called the KISS method]

With the right support and guidance: budding songwriters can start to understand not just the power of music, but the power of their words, and how they can quite literally rewrite their emotional responses to events or situations that are surrounding them.

With the right songwriting coaching, your teenager can learn how to use music and songwriting to rewire their brain, their nervous system, and their reduce their stress levels.

The thing is: songwriting is not just creative and thus enjoyable: but - again, with the right mentor - your teenager may begin their journey writing angry lyrics to aggressive beats, but a well-written song can pass the genre test easily, and - before you know it - the aggressive sounds coming from your teenagers lips can be transformed into calming music. Look at the likes of Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt" [originally Nine Inch Nails], or any of Weird Al Yankovick's musical covers.

... Then there's putting it all together in a performance

Of course, performance is not for everyone - especially if a young person is still dealing with their anxiety and depression demons, however:

Can you imagine how empowering it might be to not just speak your truth, but SING your truth aloud?

Words matter. What we tell ourselves every day matters. Songwriting offers us an effective tool to disrupt the negative self talk we often fall victim to, and that can be an incredibly powerful experience. However: if a songwriter keeps that rewritten fight song to themselves: it can be difficult to truly feel its effects.

By speaking and singing one's newfound messages and cognitive reframe into existence in front of even one person elevates the belief in the lyrics. It's one thing to write an affirmation down - it's another thing to say it aloud to oneself.

It's a whole other level to share those affirmations with another person.

By sharing their lyrics and songs on stage, your teenager is now able to use music as a safety blanket to share their truth safely. They can start to express their pain and emotions - and connect with their audience in a way that evokes emotion within them at the same time. By performing an original piece of music: your teenager can start to recognize how lyric writing can be a tool for not just relieve stress, but connect with others showing that they aren't alone. By singing or rapping their truth song, they can work through their anxiety, and share the benefits with their audience - however big or small - to illustrate that they have support around them throughout their journey.

They always had support: from you. But - because they're now able to express themselves through music and songwriting - they can finally start to recognize and feel that support since they're no longer stuck in a loop of depression, elevated stress levels, anxiety, and emotional turmoil.

Without the emotional overwhelm clouding their understanding: you can now start to work towards reconnecting with them, and supporting them more directly through their journey of navigating the after-effects and trauma of the pandemic, as well as the day to day "normal", yet significant, psychological, physical, and hormonal struggles of adolescence and puberty.

Suddenly: it all fits together

With their emotions more balanced, their understanding of self clearer, their nervous system now calmer, their cortisol levels now lowered, stress, and anxiety levels more stable, and you now having a clearer idea on what was contributing to their stress, and anxiety in the first place: you can now start to work on rebuilding your relationship with your teenager.

Songwriting can start to be part of your stress management [and lowered blood pressure] plan, or a communication tool to help one another hear the other... and potentially even respond to one another's emotional or mental health needs. It honestly doesn't matter what genre you each write in: the power of music remains the same.

We can use music and songwriting can help your teenager's

  • nervous system

  • stress levels

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • stress reduction

  • blood pressure

  • pain threshold

  • psychological wellbeing / depression

Ask me how to get started!

Whether you're looking for an in-person, or online youth empowerment coach: I would love to hop on a call to see how I can best facilitate your teenager's mental health journey using music and songwriting.

Click here to book a call, and let's explore how we can use music to best facilitate your child's mental health.

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