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By Alex Fuentes

During a team meeting here at NAMI California, we talked about music that makes us feel good and decided to create a collaborative playlist. As I listened in on the top feel-good songs of my colleagues on our #FridayFeeling playlist, I began to reflect on the powerful role music has played in promoting my own well-being.

Many bodies of research support the healing effects of music. Our favorite melodies release dopamine, known as the feel-good hormone, which activates our brain’s pleasure and reward system. Music can have a positive, immediate impact on our mental state; fast tempos can psychologically and physiologically arouse us, helping energize us for the day. Slower, meditative tunes can help us to relax and lower our stress levels.

“A small but growing body of scientific evidence suggests that music and other rhythmic stimuli can alter mental states in predictable ways and even heal damaged brains.” (Stanford) Neuroscientist and opera singer Indre Viskontas says, “Listening to calm music when you are anxious can also lower your heart rate, deepen your breathing, because now all of a sudden your brain is trying to sync up with the music and if the music has a slower pulse, then that slows down these other autonomic parts of your nervous system. So that’s why music can be very calming, and in fact, it’s surprising that you can listen to music before surgery and actually need less sedative.” (PBS)

When I need to relax, I listen to the calm of “The Sea” by HAEVN to ground me. When I’m stressed, Le’Andria Johnson reminds me that “Better Days” are coming. When I want something festive, I play “Me Rehúso” by Danny Ocean.

My favorite music artists are part of my support network I turn to, and as a community, there is something profound in sharing a part of ourselves. What I’ve learned this week is that a collaborative playlist is a fun way to destress and connect with one another on a deeper level.

What songs make YOU feel good? Is there music you play when you need to lift your spirits or calm your mind?

Community Voices: School During the Pandemic

  • If you could offer one piece of advice to parents, what would it be? Is there something in particular you’ve done to make this time easier for your family? Tips on how to de-stress? How to support the needs of kids going to school remotely? How to maintain family balance?
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Alex Fuentes is the Summer 2020 Community Engagement Intern at NAMI California and a student at Stanford University