Friday May 12, 2017

Music, Mental Health, and Mother's Day

Hearing the first notes of our favorites songs, our hearts skip a beat, memories are triggered of moments, places and life milestones. We think of lovers, friends, and family, people gone and people in our present lives. Music is unique in its capacity to give wings to our innermost thoughts and flight to feelings that make our spirits soar.

Music has profound mental health benefits.  Technically, music reduces stress by activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which includes releasing cortisol and catecholamines that reduce stress and anxiety and improve concentration and alertness. Music can relieve symptoms of depression and elevate mood much like exercise. 

And there is so much more. Music also is particularly effective at evoking feelings of contentment, desire, yearning, bonding and connection by increasing levels of oxytocin – the “love hormone”- in the brain.

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, here are five songs with selected lyrics and links that help me express my love, gratitude, joy and yearning as a daughter and mother. Enjoy, listen, smile, and sing along!

1.

Mama’s Song (Carrie Underwood)

Mama you taught me to do the right things
So now you have to let your baby fly
You’ve given me everything that I will need
To make it through this crazy thing called life…

2.

Let it Be (Beatles)

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom,
Let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me speaking words of wisdom,
Let it be…

3.

Somebody’s Hero (Jamie O’Neal)

She’s never pulled anybody from a burning building
She’s never rocked central park to a half a million
Fans, screaming out her name, she’s never hit a shot to win the game
She’s never left her footprints on the moon
She’s never made a solo hot air balloon ride
Around the world, no, she’s just your everyday average girl (but)
She’s somebody’s hero…

4.

Bright Side of the Road (Van Morrison)

Little darlin’, come with me
Won’t you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
Into this life we’re born
Baby sometimes, sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye…

5.

You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor)

Well the sun is surely sinking down
But the moon is slowly rising
And this old world must still be spinning ’round
And I still love you

So close your eyes
You can close your eyes, it’s all right
I don’t know no love songs
And I can’t sing the blues anymore
But I can sing this song
And you can sing this song
When I’m gone…

Happy Mother’s Day 2017!

Kathleen M. Pike, PhD - Is Professor of Psychology & Director of the Mental Health Program at CUMC kmp2@cumc.columbia.edu