How music can help your mental state during quarantine

Branham students and teachers find music to be a helpful tool during pandemic.

Jiyoon Choi and Hannah McElroy, Staff writer

Listening to music helped students attain their own mental space even though lacking a physical space. Music influences students’ and staff’s moods too, mostly in a positive way. 


Studies have shown that music can create a mental space by affecting students’ emotional state.   A 2015 study from Finland found that music had a big effect on both negative and positive emotions and can both amplify and prevent these emotions. It also found that music can alter the emotional state to shift more positively or negatively. 


“In general, I would say that music is pretty good and helpful. It’s a very useful tool,” Branham’s Wellness Center director Kevin Nguyen said. “It’s really about mindfulness, in a way, using music as a tool to focus and be intentional about what you’re doing.” 


Listening to music that matches the emotional state in terms of rhythm, volume, and lyrics can influence the mood greatly. For example, upbeat music can lift the mood but sadder music can drop it. 


“Music has a huge impact on your mood,” said Nguyen. “But if you’re really deep in depression, I would highly advise against like listening to a sad song, or sad music just because it could potentially lead to isolation.”


Though coronavirus has led to quarantining and virtual schooling, students have been able to use music to help improve concentration and to motivate them for schoolwork. Having a prepared list of songs for different moods and purposes, like studying or relaxing, is helpful. 


“It does help me stay focused,” senior Genevieve Medina said. “And also, I make a lot of different playlists for different moods so it’s nice to have music for when I’m happier.”


Quarantine has given students and staff time to spend on expanding their music taste and discovering new artists. It also gave people some time to appreciate the music thoroughly.


“I think my music taste is good because I was able to listen to more artists and more different genres that I probably wouldn’t have before,” Medina said. “And I’ve listened to a lot more music too so I think I’ve just been able to appreciate it more with the time we’ve had in quarantine.”


Listening to music creates a more positive mental state, and it can be beneficial in situations beyond schoolwork and studying. Many people listen to music to make other situations more comfortable. 


“I’ll listen to music if I’m in the car, it’ll make time pass by,” freshman Sheira Hormozi said. “And I listen to music to have fun and set a good mood.”


Even though quarantine has created a more challenging environment for students, music can create a more comforting state of mind and take some distractions off.


“Yeah, I’ll listen to music. If I need comfort,” Hormozi said. “ And it puts me in like a relaxing state.”


Although not enough research has been done to understand why music affects the emotional state, music does build positive experience for listeners and the quarantine has amplified listeners’ experience with music no matter the genre. 


“All the time, even when I was in person class, I music was always on for me,” English teacher Tobie Schweizer said. “And so it does keep me distracted, in a way, and it helps keep my mood up, because I can keep music on all the time.”


While music can uplift one’s mood positively, it can be used to relax and bring the tension down. An hour of calm music before bed would help people fall asleep.


“But lately some bad and sad things have happened with school, and music helps at night, especially when I’m trying to go to bed but then your mind starts going,” Schweizer said. “That helps get me to sleep because then I can concentrate on the music instead of the sad things that have been going on before your music.”


While music can lower the amount of distractions, sometimes it can become a distraction itself. Songs with lyrics are the ones that usually take the attention away from the work intended to do.


“That’s kind of bad because I listen to music whenever I don’t want to do homework, and I end up spacing out for three hours and then I don’t get my homework done,” freshman Ella Levenberg said.


Along with affecting one’s mood and mental states, music can help people feel energized. It can lift up self-esteem especially after a social environment.


“Music overall positively affects my mood,” Levenberg said. “For instance, whenever I’m out in a social setting of any sort, and my social battery runs out I’ll just listen to music for a few minutes and it’ll really help me just recharge.”


The power that music holds is universal. It can invoke various emotions and influence moods. It can be a tool for concentrating and cause distraction.


“Music has a universal pull of expressing or connecting with certain emotions that you can’t always find the words for,” Nguyen said.