Tips on how to create your own custom mental-health playlist

woman listening to music
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

Now more than ever people are searching for methods of self-care, and finding that music is just the fix. And we agree, in this crazy, nonstop and often-stressful world, one thing that remains constant is music. It can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood and mental alertness. Whether you’re listening to this or that, research has proven that music can trigger the release of dopamine in several parts of the brain that affect everything from our mood, to productivity, to memory.

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For those dealing with mental health struggles, whatever they may be or look like, it can be quite debilitating. That’s why listening to relatable songs, or songs that simply make you happy is in some cases just the medicine you need.

When putting together the perfect combination of tracks for either yoga, meditation, a treat yo-self spa day, or a walk to get some fresh air, it does require a bit of skill and strategy. However, at the end of the day, it’s your playlist, so it’s all about you.  But don’t worry, we’ve totally got your back, so here are a few tips and ideas on how to get started making the perfect mental health playlist just for you.

According to psychologist Joseph Cardillo, PhD. it all begins with having two major purposes in mind, relaxation and alertness. Doing so generates effects that can be amplified “once you put a little science behind it.” Then, once you’ve set your focus on the the purpose, divide up the songs into more specific categories like mood-boosting, grounding, or focusing.

“You can constantly use your different playlists to balance yourself,” said Cardillo. Including songs from distant memories can also help engage your mind and activate habits. “I play those exact songs my mother used to listen to when she and I worked together,” Cardillo added.

It’s been proven that our brains naturally synchronize to the rhythm of the music we’re listening to. So for example, in order to amplify the effects on a run, build a playlist that starts off slower and then increases in BPM as you jog. With that said, the only person your playlist has to make sense to is you, a spa day doesn’t have to mean chill music, and hype up music can be unexpected and whatever you’d like.  The key is your association with the music and habit forming behavior.

So if Black Sabbath helps you fall asleep, you do you boo, get some BSab on your sleepy-time playlist. And if Ace of Base makes you feel zen, well… you know what to do. Now it's your turn, happy mental health playlist making!

WATCH MORE: 5 Celebrities Who Are Mental Health Champions


RADIO.COM’s I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images