Why Do We Listen to Sad Songs When We Feel Sad? 💔

Hey friends  👋🏻 


I’m working hard on my next video about turning 30. Stay tuned.

Doable ideas 💭

Replacing undesirable habits might be a better solution instead of telling yourself you need to stop doing something.


Last week I started working on my hip and shoulder mobility before bedtime. I set reminder on my phone, turned off my laptop, dimmed the lights, sat down on my carpet and got to work.


This effectively reduced my unwanted scrolling behaviour by 85% since the environment was perfect for winding down, my body was relaxed and I was in the headspace of optimising health and sleep.


I used to rely on willpower to change habits.


Never worked for me.


If you’re looking for solutions to your bad habits, try replacing them with desirable behaviours. Let me know how you go 🙂

Reflections 🪞

Which emotion(s) am I trying to avoid right now?

Mindfulness 🧘🏻‍♀️

You probably have that friend or family member who tells you to “cheer up” when you are visibly upset.


Similar to happy songs, “cheer up” is the last thing we want to hear when we feel sad.


Throughout my 2-year career as a music therapist, I’ve encountered many clients and parents who think “listening to calm music = emotion regulation”, or “those rap/heavy metal music are brainwashing my kids into drugs and alcohol”.


Are those true?



Debunking Myths Around Music and Mood


During my teen years I excessively listened to (and relied on) sad and moody music to a point I had to go buy a pair of earphones if I forgot to bring them with me. I exclusively wrote sad songs. Most of my journal entries were dark. I did not have much hope about the future.


Well, I seemed to be fine and functioning alright now – with the right mindset. So the question is, are certain music more beneficial to our emotional health? And why do we listen to sad songs when we feel sad?


According to research 🤓, there is pleasure when we listen to sad songs even though we feel sad. In particular, there is a difference between “perceived emotion” and “felt emotion”. We perceive the sadness of sad music but feel both sadness and pleasure (more romantic, blither and less tragic) when we listen to it. Music-induced pleasure can activite the dopaminergic system just like when we have food and sex.


Music Speaks When Words Fail


Don’t forget we don’t just use language to describe our feelings.


Ever felt something heavy in our chest, or tightness in our stomach that we cannot explain in words? Then there is always a song that perfectly depicts whatever we are going through. In that sense, we can draw comfort knowing that someone else has been through what we’re going through right now and we can relate to that. Sad music might provide a chance to sort out our feelings.


This also explains why the non-verbal elements of music work so well in terms of communication and emotion expression: before language was invented, human beings used gestures, rhythms, chanting or other non-verbal cues (eye contact, body position etc.) to communicate.


Pay attention to the musical elements in the music you listen to next time: the tempo, volume, cadence, pitch, timbre etc. How do they affect your mood?


Like Everything Else, It’s About How You Use It


Music can be a double-edged sword. Intention is always key when you use any tool. Ask yourself: what am I trying to achieve? Does this help or worsen the situation?


We own 100% responsibility. We can either leverage music to enrich our lives or work through our sadness, or we can let it take us to the darkside.


We can all cultivate more mindfulness even on choosing what music to listen to 🙂


Extended reading: learn how to design your best mental health care plan for anxiety and depression here.

Ideas Worth Pondering 🧠

The activities you do daily will be the brush strokes of the new identity you paint for yourself. Put care into each stroke, and in totality they will form a cohesive image. By taking these new daily actions, no matter how short or small, you will believe you are that kind of person. Your actions are proof, incontrovertible evidence that create belief in the new identity.
– August Bradley

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Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

  1. Claim your peace of mind with these handpan guided meditation soundtracks.
  2. Work 1:1 with me to improve your health and wellbeing with music therapy. No waiting list!

Be awesome x