Songs of Self-care Part II

The Work that Came Before Me

After some thought, I’ve decided to do this project right, so the first step is to see who has embarked on this project before me and include their work into my own. As I find works that build on this project I will add them here. My goal is for this to be a sort of informal annotated bibliography of all the useful people who wrote before me. I’ve cut it into three sections, blogs, articles and journals, starting with informal blogs and moving to peer reviewed medical journals. All these works are useful to varying degrees, I just think separating them by category will help me to better use their research later. Here is a rather exhaustive list of any and all writings I can find on the subject of cultivating selfcare playlists and the benefits of music to mental health:

Blogs with Self-care Playlists:

This first group is a collection of similarly minded blog posts combined with playlists. These are the least technical, but reading them added quite a few awesome songs to my mix. There is also very little dialog to these pieces, perhaps a very brief description of the song in question, but not the thorough breakdown that I’m looking for from my piece. Also, these playlists tend to be on the shorter side, just a few albums worth. In my first blog post my playlist already had one hundred songs. I think it’s important that the list get cut into more bite-sized chunks for more useful consumption.

One thing that has been abundantly clear as I’ve embarked on this project is that this is a very deep well. There are A LOT of songs that fit the short set of requirements I’ve made for songs pertaining to self-care. In creating playlists it seems most people choose a more specific topic when beginning cultivation. Bite-sized playlists are better for blog posts, so 10 or 15 song mixes are more common than the 32s or 50s, and I have yet to find any over 100. It’s nice to see the work I’m doing hasn’t entirely been done before, though it feels that I am doing it out of necessity rather than simple enjoyment. This playlist is meant to be a tool, the sort of tool that might stop someone from acts of self-harm or suicide. I mean it to be a powerful tool in that respect, something that has the power to save lives.

(Oh boy there are a lot of songs here, it will take me a long time to sort through these, and I’m not sure how useful that work would be. I think I need to look at specific sections, like all the songs titled “Anxiety.”)

Articles on the Subject of Music and Mental Health:

Articles on the subject of music and mental health tend to be a pretty far cry from blogs about self-care playlists. These pieces bridge the gap between the very unscientific blog posts with youtube links and memes, and articles in peer reviewed research journals. They usually have a scientific journal quoted or cited, but lack much of the jargon, making them much easier to actually read, but contain far less nuance than the academic papers themselves. If you want the real facts, you have to go to the source, for those, continue scrolling.

Scholarly Sources on the Benefits of Music to Mental Health:

“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”

-Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Canadian Association of Music Therapists

Using Music as Self Care vs Music Therapy – Music Care

The sound of silence is music to the heart – Heart, The British Medical Journal

The impact of music on neurochemistry – AudioCura

AudioCura music treatment for patients

Literature –

School-aged children’s experiences of postoperative music medicine on pain, distress, and anxiety. – National Center for Biotechnology Information

If you find a piece that you think belongs in this list, or better yet, if you’ve written a piece you feel has a place on this list, please send me a comment and let me know! I would love to collect all the work that has been done on the subject of using music to improve mental health. I think there is so much good that can come from this work, and the more these pieces are collected together, the more they form a body of research that people can use to really change their lives for the better. So if you have something that fits, send it my way!

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