🎶 Thank You for the Music 🎶
Finding Safety in Song - My Mental Health playlist
For a while now I've been compiling a playlist of songs that really speak to me when it comes to my mental health. I've written in the past about the universally transformative power of music (see 'The Miracles of Music'); even when we are in our moodiest of moods, we often can't help but tap our feet or hum along when we hear a great song. In a similar way, I've found that in my most anxious or darkest moments, music can lift me or help me accept the emotions I'm experiencing. With this in mind, I thought it might be a nice idea to share my thus-far-private playlist. If you ever feel lost, in need of lifting or reassuring, or simply want a good cry, I hope this playlist does that and in turn provides some sense of catharsis.
1. 'You Will Be Found', from the Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. This song is simply the greatest demonstration of love and solidarity. (I like this cover because I'm an A Cappella nerd, but the original with Ben Platt and the rest of the cast is even more powerfully compelling.)
2. 'Courage', from P!nk's latest album. It makes me feel a bit better to know that even P!nk gets scared of change.
"Have I the courage of change?"
3. 'Breathe', by my favourite artist, Rhodes. Not to be dramatic, but this is just the most beautiful and uplifting song to probably have ever existed. It's also very apt to anxiety and the panicked breathlessness I experience.
"Are you holding your breath again? Breathe, release it all..."
4. 'Pressure', Lauren Cimorelli. This song is just so damn relatable.
"There's so much pressure, I've been killing myself, Trying to measure up, Nothing will ever be enough"
5. 'Ease My Mind'. Speaking of Ben Platt, he also has lots of beaut songs from his own album, Sing to Me Instead. This one in particular talks about the reparative comfort a loved one can give when we open up to them about our troubles.
"You came out of nowhere and you cut through all the noise. I make sense of the madness when I listen to your voice."
6. 'Broken & Beautiful', by Kelly Clarkson, from the movie UGLYDOLLS. I haven't seen the movie, but this song is a pretty effective reminder that we can be both broken and beautiful, weak and strong, insecure and confident, but most of all, enough just as we are.
"Can someone just hold me? Don't fix me, don't try to change a thing. Can someone just know me? 'Cause underneath, I'm broken and it's beautiful."
7. 'LA Is Lonely', Ricky Manning. If, like me, you have a dream that seems ever-unreachable, and you feel alone in your failure, this song will hit you in all the feels. The two weeks of work experience I spent trying to chase my dreams in London were two of the loneliest weeks of my life; but songs like this made me feel less alone.
"But nobody tells you when you go chasing your dreams, That its much harder than it seems on the screens, Fake magazines on the shelf, You're only left with yourself."
8. 'Secret For The Mad', dodie. This is such a beautifully simple, yet comforting, song that urges its listeners to just keep on fighting one more day.
"And there will be a day When you can say you're okay and mean it;
I promise you it'll all make sense again."
9. "She Used To Be Mine" by Sara Bareilles for the musical, Waitress. Many of us find our lives taken over by mental illness- this song is not about that exactly, but it reflects on how we may come to lose ourselves throughout life, and the fight that is needed to get a happier, more carefree version of ourselves back.
"She's imperfect, but she tries, She is good, but she lies, She is hard on herself, She is broken and won't ask for help, She is messy, but she's kind, She is lonely most of the time..."
10. 'breathin', by the pop Queen that is Ariana Grande. Ariana has spoken publicly about having depression, anxiety and panic disorder, but, similarly to Ben Platt, Ariana uses this song to capture how the support of others can get you through.
"Time goes by and I can't control my mind, Don't know what else to try, but you tell me every time:
Just keep breathin'..."
11. 'Shallow', Lady Gaga ft Bradley Cooper, from A Star Is Born. A beautifully heart-wrenching ode to fear, emptiness and dissatisfaction.
"In all the good times I find myself Longing for change, And in the bad times I fear myself"
12. 'You Say', cover by Cimorelli. The 'You' in this song is God; in some cases it is our faith that will get us through, in other cases, we need to tell believe in ourselves. Whoever your 'You' is, this song oozes strength and belief.
"You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing; you say I am strong when I think I am weak; you say I am held when I am falling short; when I don't belong, you say that I am yours."
13. 'Anxiety', Julia Michaels ft Selena Gomez
The title says it all really. If you want to understand social anxiety, give this a listen. Julia is a lyrical genius and I'm so glad songs like this are being written.
"Oh, I try my best just to be social, I make all these plans with friends and hope they call and cancel, Then I overthink about the things I'm missing, Now I'm wishing I was with 'em..."
14. 'Joy', Bastille
This song is about the visitation of joy and how, right when you need it but least expect it, joy comes to you, in whatever form it takes for you.
"Joy, set my mind free, I was giving up, oh, I was giving in.
How'd you always know when I'm down?"
15. 'The Cure', Little Mix
Self-love, independence, empowerment, recovery- what more could you want in a song?
"I was a little bit lost, but I'm not anymore, I was a little bit hurt, but I'm not anymore, I was a little left out, but I'm not anymore, 'Cause the tears fell down, but they don't anymore."
16. 'Last Hope', Paramore
All you need is a spark. Crank the volume up on this one and sing it at the top of your lungs - I guarantee you'll feel better.
"It's just a spark, but it's enough to keep me going. And when it's dark out and no one's around, it keeps glowing..."
17. 'Rise Up', Andra Day
I don't know about mountains, but this song sure moves me. I can't quite find the words to capture the momentous power this song holds - but if you're searching for hope, or if you need to feel understood, or just feel anything, this is the song that will do it.
"When the silence isn't quiet, And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe, and I know you feel like dying, But I promise we'll take the world to its feet, And move mountains."
18. 'A Safe Place to Land', Sara Bareilles ft John Legend
Bareilles does it again with her painstakingly raw lyrics. Although this song was written about the border crisis, if not interpreted in such a literal way, this song holds some beautiful metaphors for the struggles of mental illness.
"Be the hand of a hopeful stranger, A little scared but you're strong enough. Be the light in the dark of this danger, 'Til the sun comes up..."
19. 'Let It Be', The Beatles
This song has become my mantra when it comes to dealing with anxiety and stress. My therapist used to encourage me to simply sit with the feelings of panic and anxiety that overcame me- to 'let them be', rather than try and change them, as they too shall pass.
"And when the night is cloudy, There is still a light that shines on me, Shine until tomorrow, let it be."
20. 'This Is Me', Keala Settle and the cast of The Greatest Showman
When it comes to mental illness, very often the 'sharpest words' come from our own minds; the niggling voices in our heads that fill us with insecurity, paranoia and hopelessness. This song sure shuts them up.
"When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. This is brave, this is bruised, This is who I'm meant to be, this is me."
I've now made this playlist public on Spotify, so please follow and share it - I'll be sure to keep updating it.