Singing in a choir or playing in something like an orchestra or band can give you a sense of community, new friends and improved self-esteem.
Learning an individual instrument can also be very beneficial, as it gives you some space to be alone when you practice. Many find this quite a mindful act, as the body is occupied with playing and your thoughts and emotions can surface slowly while you play. Certainly, if difficult feelings become too overwhelming, making music can be a soothing outlet either to express those emotions creatively or provide a distraction from harmful impulses or thoughts.
Listening to music can increase the levels of dopamine, the feel-good chemical, in your brain. So, if you’re making music, those sounds can have the same effect.
If you don’t have access to a musical instrument or group musical activity, there are some videos on YouTube which can help you with singing exercises or you could search for some free or cheap apps which teach you virtually instead and the NHS are currently testing Cove which may also be of interest. The BBC also has a range of free resources and courses for young musicians.
In this video, Georgia, one of the Centre's Young Champions, talks about how learning to play the guitar and making music helped her when she was feeling low:
What young people have told us:
'I love singing and I find it easier to express my feelings in songs rather than by talking to people.'
'Listen to an instrumental from a song you like and write what comes to mind in line with the beat. or maybe learn an instrument'
'If you love music i would definitely recommend this. You don't have to be able to sing or write music but sometimes writing lyrics can be just as effective or even just coming up with a melody.'
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.