5 Ways Playing an Instrument Can Improve Your Mental Health

Picking up a musical instrument is more than just a great hobby – it’s also an effective way to improve your mental health. Playing an instrument can boost your self-esteem, improve brain functioning, and reduce stress and anxiety.

Even if you’ve never played a single note before, you can reap many benefits from starting to learn an instrument, and it’s an activity that you can continue for the rest of your life.

1. It Improves Your Cognitive Ability

Playing music has been proven to improve cognitive functioning in older adults, helping the brain compensate for injury and disease. Next time you pick up a guitar to strum a few chords or hammer out a tune on the piano, you’re literally changing the wiring of your brain.

Playing an instrument forces you to use parts of your brain that might otherwise be neglected. You’ll learn to memorize complex patterns, link different ideas together, and create new combinations based on what you already know. All of these skills will serve you well in the rest of your life.

2. It Boosts Your Self-Esteem

Is there any better feeling than finally mastering a new tune on your favourite instrument? Probably not. No matter what else is going on in your life, dedicating time and energy to improving your musical skills provides a great boost to your self-esteem. This is particularly valuable if you’re unemployed or work in a job without a fixed end goal.

Whether you’re playing alone in your bedroom, showing off to family, or getting onstage at a local open mic night, you’re sure to feel pretty great afterwards. Just remember not to go sucked into perfectionism, and avoid being too hard on yourself as a beginner.

3. It Gives You a New Way to Express Yourself

Feeling like you’re unable to express yourself can really get you down. If you don’t enjoy creative pursuits like writing or drawing, you might feel that you have no way to get your ideas across to others. Playing music is a great way to tap into your creativity and channel your feelings into something positive.

Had a terrible day? Why not make up a melancholy tune on the piano? Feeling angry? A quick session on the drums should help. Self-expression is one of the greatest benefits of playing an instrument.

4. It Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Playing an instrument is a great way to relax, unwind, and forget about whatever else is going on in your life. Whether you’re stressed about school, worried about your job, or dealing with relationship struggles, you’ll be sure to find some relief in music. Even 20 minutes of playing your instrument can provide a respite that leaves you feeling calm, refreshed, and ready to deal with whatever life throws at you.

5. It’s a Chance to Meet Like-Minded People

While playing music alone is lots of fun, it’s even better when you’re collaborating with others. If you’re a beginner, you could sign up to a local class to learn with other newbies. If you’ve got a bit more experience, look at joining a local band – or even starting your own.

If you often feel nervous in social situations, your instrument can be a great ice-breaker. You won’t have to sit around and chat for hours, because everyone will be focused on playing. Music is a great way to ease yourself into making new friends.

Are you looking for a hobby that’s fun, rewarding, and great for your mental health? There’s nothing better than learning to play an instrument. Whether you want to be happier and healthier, cut down on stress, or improve your cognitive skills, music will help.


Photo by Rushina Morrison on Unsplash