Help my Teenager: Stress and Music

Having grown up pre-computers, pre-social media, and pre-COVID, it's hard to recognize or understand much of, well, anything these days. Watching the huge increase of teen stress, teen anxiety and teen depression in conjunction with the advent and popularity of TikTok, Discord, HouseParty, SnapChat: it's no wonder why so many parents [like you!] are feeling overwhelmed by life and parenthood.

Let's take a step back, and breathe. Look at this from a slightly different perspective, perhaps.

Up until recent articles suggesting there are six, seven, eight... even twelve dimensions of wellness: for decades it has been thought that there are five facets of self: our mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and social selves. More recent articles argue that financial / cultural / lifestyle and behavioral / self responsibility and love / breathing / conscious living / movement health are all additional facets we should be looking after, but that's a [lengthy] conversation for another day.

Fact is: society moves super fast in 2022, and it's difficult to balance work, relationship/married life, parenthood and your own health, so... what gives?

Here's the thing: with stress and anxiety on the increase for not just your teenager, but for you as well... there must be some out of the box, creative approaches to not just increasing your teens social, emotional, spiritual, physical and mental health: but yours as well.

This is one of the many ways that music, music therapy, and songwriting can be so beneficial.

Let's break it down [and I promise I'll keep this short and sweet - as always. I know you don't have too much time!].

Your Teens Mental Health:

According to the Oxford Dictionary, mental health is "a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being".

Multiple studies have shown that the mere act of listening to music can significantly shift a person's psychological and emotional state, as it "acts as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief. Music can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or for dysregulation". That kind of impact comes simply from listening to music. Imagine the elevated results from equipping your teenager with the ability to not only process their emotions, trauma and grief through music, but actively transforming their own personal stories, struggles, and emotions into lyrics and song.

Your Teens Physical Health:

The positive impacts of music, as a whole, on our physical wellbeing are plentiful. According to the Northshore University Health System: music is good for the heart, stress, depression, memory and the brain, pain levels, and many other health concerns. This is especially important for your teenager as they learn effective methods and strategies [outside of TikTok dance challenges] to increase their health, overcome negative body image issues [hello, Lizzo], and cope with the brain fog of having missed out on the formative high school experience due to a global pandemic.

Your Teens Emotional Health:

According to researchers from SCL Health: the mere act of listening to music "triggers a release of dopamine: a kind of naturally occurring happy chemical we receive as part of a reward system, to the brain". At the same time, oxytocin - the love hormone - is released, and cortisol levels [the stress hormone] have been shown to decrease... which results in a less stressed person as a result of listening to music. But music can do so much more.

Anxiety and stress are often results of an individuals complete overwhelm from events, conflicting thoughts, or ideas. By offering your teenager a creative outlet to not just step back and identify each key event, thought and idea: then express each event, thought and idea through the lens of music and songwriting: teens can truly start to analyze and interrupt their negative thought patterns with a shot of dopamine and oxytocin.

Your Teens Spiritual Health:

One of my favorite songwriters, and Berklee College lecturers Pat Pattison, told me once that well written song can be translated into any and every genre. To that extent: when you gift your teen with the ability to not just express themselves through the genre of their choice, [for a long time: my genre of choice was what my ex-boss referred to as "angsty girl rock" a la Garbage and Pat Benatar, however I daresay most young people in 2022 are probably leaning more towards "trap" and "alt pop" a la Pop Smoke and Billie Eilish], but also the ability to transform that same song into a completely different style.

Why is this important, and what does that have to do with spiritual health?

Ludwig van Beethoven said so himself: Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. To be able to translate your teenagers' original song into a completely different genre than intended, particularly if you are to couple the melody with instrumentation of a certain sound frequency [aka wholetones]: powerful shifts can happen. Henry War Beecher said it best: ""Music cleanses the understanding, inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it could not reach if it were left to itself." By marrying this music with your teenagers own verbiage - their own stories and truth - magic can happen.

Spiritual shifts can happen.

Students can really start to explore parts of their spiritual health that they might not have had the opportunity to do before. And - because it's through the lens of music - they can do so without fear of judgment, bullying or shame.

Lastly: Your Teens [very important] Social Health

... and let's be real: after over two years of social isolation and physically distanced learning: we need to be catering for our young people's social health now more than ever.

But we need to do it safely.

It's difficult to ensure the safety of every social media platform - especially if your teen were to fall into an algorithm. The way that AI is set up now: it's easy for technology-, retail-, and social- media companies to target users based on their profiles, their online behaviors and even the places they visit IRL. This results in your teens online activity often being guided by algorithms that essentially dictate who shows up on their timeline, and what content they're being shown on a day to day basis.

How can music help?

By giving your teen the tools to step into their emotional and mental health power, and express themselves healthily using songwriting: students can start to create their own niche audience, following, and exposure to content by, quite literally, rewriting the algorithm. By writing, singing and performing their own original songs online [a la Beabadoobee and Olivia Rodrigo]: your teen will start to connect with other teens and adolescents - not just within your immediate community, but cross continents.

As the saying goes: your vibe attracts your tribe, and every tribe throughout history has had a link to music in some way, shape or form.

Your teen can literally start attracting and growing their post-pandemic community through the stories, emotions and truth they're writing, singing and sharing.

Of course, online safety will always be a topic for discussion, but the fact of the matter is: socializing looks different in 2022. Teenagers no longer meet in coffee shops to drink coffee: they go to share memes, post videos with the hashtag #livingmybestlife, and snap pictures with filters to attempt social acceptance and dominance.

It's the same as it ever was... but with a social media twist. The way in which we now help them to work through their trauma, struggle and stress needs to change too.

Teenagers stress and music seem to go hand in hand. Especially in 2022. Conventional music therapy might not be appealing, but I guarantee: giving your teenager the tools to express their depression and anxiety, frustrations with covid 19, and turn their negative into positive through the art of songwriting can be a powerful solution.

If you'd like to learn more, click here to schedule a discovery call and let's talk about how songwriting and music together might be the fix you've been looking for.

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