woman with headset listening to musicLearn how music can supply motivation, relieve anxiety and increase well-being.

Anyone who’s faced the heartache of a breakup or sung along joyfully with a favourite anthem is familiar with the power of music to energize you, make you smile, even soothe your broken heart. But what if listening to music could actually revolutionize your mental health? Improving your quality of life can begin with selecting the right playlist, say

Galina Mindlin, MD, PhD, Don DuRousseau, MBA, and Joseph Cardillo, PhD, the authors of Your Playlist Can Change Your Life.

But how is that possible? Beta, alpha, theta and delta are not just reminders of Greek life on campus; they are the names of brain-wave frequencies. Beta is your waking state. Alpha and theta are lower frequencies. Alpha represents a relaxed mental state; theta, the barely conscious state between sleep and wakefulness. Delta represents the deep-sleep state. You can choose music that matches these frequencies to alter your state of mind and achieve the one you want.

You can send yourself subliminal messages to cultivate more focus, feel more energy, and achieve a mood through music. It can also relieve anxiety, sharpen your memory, activate your creativity, increase your alertness and productivity, and enhance your ability to stave off stress, insomnia, depression and even addiction.

Here are six tips to get you started:

1. Pick songs that you like, a lot.

Regardless of the state of mind, you want to achieve, if you love a song on your playlist, it will amplify the effect you’re going for. Also, pay attention to the emotions you associate with certain songs. If a specific song makes you happy, play it often. If you notice that a song puts you in a downer mood, even if it’s a beautiful song, refrain from putting it on your playlist.

2. Pay attention to when a certain song works and when it doesn’t.

The same song could put you in a great mood while you’re on your way to work, but irritate you when you’re waking up. Pay attention to when and how a song affects you.

3. Ingrain songs into your memory.

When you find a song that is perfect for a given situation, like a song that motivates you when you work out or puts you in a good mood when you wake up, repeat that song during those times. Before you know it, simply listening to that song will instantly put you in the right mood.

4. Make a playlist that is task-oriented.

Make different playlists for different tasks: a playlist for driving home from work, a morning wake-up playlist, a workout playlist, a bedtime playlist. When you switch playlists, it will help you easily transition from one state of mind to another, helping you transition from one task to another.

5. Look for new and old songs.

Keep your playlist updated with songs that you love. Take time to look for new and old songs that really resonate with you to add to your playlist. If a song loses its appeal, remove it from your playlist.

6. Use guided imagery.

If you want to achieve relaxation, or any mental state, recall an image or a memory when you listen to a specific song. Focus on that memory and how it made you feel—emotionally, energetically, and physically. After you’ve practised guided imagery with a specific song, the song will bring up those feelings and that associated memory whenever you hear it.