Feel-good tunes: How to practice mindfulness through your music

Capri Scarcelli | A&E Editor. By scanning the link, you can scroll through Capri's public playlists inspired by all aspects of mental health, approved by The Duke.

Capri Scarcelli | a&e editor

Oct. 14, 2021

As an avid Spotify user, I find joy in making playlists catered to my current moods and mindfulness, fitted with a niche photo cover and a hyper-specific title. Now, 77 playlists in, I still continuously find a new theme for each and every set of songs. 

Whether organized by month, season, or a shower song, road trip song, sitting in the sunlight and feeling like everything is going to be alright or walking around in your hometown where the flowers are budding and you know you’ve grown, too: there is something for everything, and that is the magic of grounding yourself with the music you listen to. 

Why do I do this, though? 

As a person with an anxiety disorder, music has been one of my greatest outlets for positive mental health. According to the American Music Therapy Association, making your own therapeutic playlist can quickly ease you out of an anxiety/panic attack, bringing you to a more relaxed state of mind depending on what you are playing. This is not only done through classical and acoustics, either: music is a matter of familiarity to the mind, which, in turn, helps bring clarity. 

That being said, you have to start off with the mood you are feeling. If you are feeling a little off, you don’t want to make a “happy playlist,” for it will feel inauthentic in comparison to your mental state. Instead, aim for a playlist that feels like you’re on the uphill battle, growing into what you are meant to become. 

A great place to start is with music that is similar-sounding to what you already listen to within the genre, but feels like a fresh start. When dealing with anxiety, it is best to give your attention to what feels most comfortable, or what you typically gravitate toward. Giving your mind this space of familiarity through music helps bring that heightened emotion back to a relaxed level. 

On Spotify, there are six “Daily Mixes” that are made based off of your recently listened-to, organized by genre. Additionally, there is a “Discover Weekly,” “Daily Drive,” “Daily Wellness” and “Release Radar” to give you brand new music each and every day. 

The mixes are curated every 24 hours, rotating your favorite artists and including artists of similar nature for a unique listening experience that broadens your horizons and inspires story-telling on your own profile. Similarly, the weekly mix gives entirely new artists and genres for you to select, while drive, wellness and radar focus on up-and-coming artists with positive, uplifting pieces. With different genres and moods in these playlists, it is easy to get a gauge of what you want your own playlist to look like. 

To do this on your own, you can filter through those playlists, or the “Playlist Radio” that follows it, to get a gauge of what you want to listen to in order to match your mood. It’s also important that this is music you enjoy — and not something you feel as though will cheer you up just because it’s popular, has peppy vocals and a strong backbeat. If it speaks to you, then it is worth categorizing. 

But how do you know a song is good enough to add to your playlist? Simple enough, pay attention to the tempo of the song, its volume, dynamic and its instrumentation. Typically speaking, you don’t listen to a somber ballad when going on a run, and you don’t listen to heavy metal when going to bed. This in mind, think of what the purpose of the playlist is, and where you want to take it from there so you have plenty of options to fit where you’re at mentally. 

This technique not only benefits you in the long-run with great music for a multitude of moods, but it also sets you up for self-care in the present moment. By giving yourself a creative outlet to focus your energy toward, you are doing inner-healing that you otherwise wouldn’t make the time for — especially with social media being a catalyst for ignoring mental health.

It is accessible to all; you can share with friends, family and peers for a pick-me-up, or to show yourself that you have control. It is a great way to thank yourself for all of your hard work, and thank your loved ones for inspiring the memories that music has brought you. 

For inspiration, my Spotify is cscarcelli20.