LIST-Learning-thinking Well-being

How music can support our well-being

Music can play a big part in our lives.

Research suggests that music can stimulate the body’s natural feel good chemicals (Eg. endorphins, oxytocin), it can help energize our mood and even help us work through problems and provide an outlet for us to take control of our feelings.

For example music can help us to:

• Promote Wellness

• Manage Stress

• Express Feelings

• Enhance Memory

• Improve Communication

• Promote Physical Rehabilitation

• Alleviate Pain – Did you know that focussing on music reduces your brain’s perception of pain?

Listening to music is a popular way to cope with difficult times, for example music can sometimes express how we are feeling or vent difficult thoughts and emotions for us. You may be able to relate to the music and find comfort from the words in a song.

By listening to music we may feel our mood or energy improve, but sometimes we may actually feel worse. So how can we work to ensure the way we use music has a positive effect on us?

What does your music do for you?

To find out how music affects you, try and become aware of the effect certain songs, styles, artists have on you.

What does the music do for you?

Some music may allow you to sit with a mood, explore it, understand it, but not feel worse from doing so.

Other music might help you change a mood, or set a new mood. This can be a helpful if it helps you bring your mood/emotions to a healthier space.

To discover the effect music has on you consider:

• Does the music allow you to sit with a mood, change a mood or set a new mood?

• Does it make you feel better or worse?

• Is it helpful to feel worse? When does it stop being helpful? For example rather than music having a calming effect on you, listening to it might make you feel more angry or anxious.

• When is it not helpful?

• Is it a certain style of music that is helpful or unhelpful or is it a certain artist or words in a song?

Managing our music

Once we are aware of how music affects us we can then start to intentionally select our music.

Many people say that having their music on shuffle is not the best thing when they are having a tough time, instead being aware of their music choice and selecting songs or playlists that they know can help them cope in a positive way is more helpful.

By considering the questions listed above can help us work out which music would be on these playlists.

Why not have a go at creating a few playlists for different emotions i.e.

• Music to wake me up

• Music to energize me

• My happy music

• Music which vents frustration for me etc

Listening to music, doesn’t have to be the only way music can be helpful you may find singing or dancing along is the actual factor that has the positive effect, so try putting on some great songs to belt along to, or you may like listening to live music, or actually writing and playing your own music. The key is to become aware of how different music and use of music affects you.

By actively and intentionally selecting and using your music it can be a really helpful way to feel more in control of your feelings.

Link to music


This information was prepared by Cheong-Clinch, Hense and Goulding 2012. We are grateful to Tune in Not Out ( for allowing us to include this information on our website.

Tune In Not Out (TINO) provides 24hr TV for life’s challenges from mental to sexual health. Tune In Not Out brings videos, factsheets, real stories and blogs from across Australia into one central point for young people to explore. Check it out


Grape, C., Sandgren, M., Hansson, L.O., Ericson, M., & Theorell, T. (2003). Does singing promote well-being? An empirical study of professional and amateur singers during a singing lesson. Journal of Integrative Physiological Behavioural Science, 38, 1, pp. 65-74.

LIST-Learning-thinking Well-being

Unhelpful Patterns of thinking

Our brain generates thousands of thoughts each day. Some thoughts are really useful, absolute gold, while others are unhelpful and best left to one side. If you can see these thoughts for what they are – thoughts – then it can allow you to get some distance from troubling thoughts and to spend more time with thoughts that are most useful and supportive of your life.

Every now and again we can all get into unhelpful patterns of thinking. When someone has experienced significant trauma, or had a series of setbacks, unhelpful patterns of thinking can become ‘locked in’, almost as an automatic response in unfamiliar or challenging situations.

Listed below are some unhelpful patterns thinking to watch out for, plus ways to disengage and get you back on track. By naming these thought patterns for what they are, you can step back from them and make a decision whether to put more energy into them—or not.

Stewing or ruminating,

Stewing or ruminating is where you find yourself running things repetitively over and over in your mind, like a tape loop, without any fresh input or action being taken. Typically, stewing or ruminating leads to problems growing in size and appearing even more difficult to deal with.

Catastrophising and over generalising

Catastrophising and over-generalising is where you take a single event or limited piece of information, and see it as a global pattern (usually a negative one). If you hear yourself using words like ‘always’ or ‘never’, these are hints that you might be catastrophising or over generalising (e.g. ‘I’m always stuffing things up’, ‘I never get a fair go’).

All or nothing thinking

All or nothing thinking, or black or white thinking, is where things are either all good OR all bad. It’s either one extreme or the other; there are no grey areas.

Shoulding or musting

Shoulding and musting is where you focus on how you perceive things ‘should’ or ‘must’ be, rather than how it is. Shoulding and musting can pressure you to do things one particular way or the ‘right way’. These might be pressures regarding yourself, or other people in your life.

Totalising or Labelling

Totalising thinking takes a single mistake, problem or shortcoming, and gets you to see yourself – your identity—entirely through that lens. (e.g. ‘I spilled my drink, I’m such a loser’). Common labels include ‘loser’, ‘idiot’, etc. Sometimes this pattern of thinking has you labelling others.

Mind reading

This is when you ‘know’ what someone else is thinking, even though you have no idea what they are thinking. It often takes the form of an assumption that another person is making a negative judgement about you.

Discounting the positive

You reject positive experiences by insisting that they “don’t count”. For example, if you have a positive interaction with someone, you write it off as a one-off, or attribute it solely to the other person’s actions and not seeing your own part. Discounting the positives takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.


When you predict that something will turn out badly, or you will stuff things up, without there being any evidence. Forecasting can get in the way of taking action to make things better.


Funnelling is when you interpret every difficulty as a result of the abuse you experienced. For example, if you feel stressed about something at work, funnelling puts this down to some personal failure resulting from the abuse, rather than identifying that there might actually be things that would cause most people to feel stressed.

Emotional Reasoning

You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are. “I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person.” Or, “I feel angry. This proves that I’m being treated unfairly.” Or, “I feel so inferior. This means I’m a second rate person.” Or, “I feel hopeless. Things must really be hopeless.”

Mis-attribution of blame and responsibility

Over-attribution of responsibility is when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. Personalization leads to guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy. Men who have been sexually abused often struggle with feeling responsible for things they are not.

Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways they might be contributing to the problem. Blaming others often goes hand in hand with feeling powerless.

Apply some problem solving skills.

Call it for what it is.

If you find yourself getting caught up in these patterns of thinking, try to name the pattern. It might be one in the list above, or you may discover some other unhelpful patterns (which you can come up with your own name for).

Ask yourself: “Is this getting me anywhere?” If not, that’s a strong indication that it’s time to try a different approach.

Get out of your head. Take a walk, call a friend, or engage in some other activity to distract yourself, refocus, shake off and loosen the hold of unhelpful thoughts.

Breathe deeply.

Worrying doesn’t only occupy the brain, it also impacts on the body: Our heart rate speeds up, and muscles tighten. Engage in deep breathing or a few yoga poses to eliminate that physical stress.

Step away from the thoughts

You could try a mindfulness exercise, or another strategy where you visualise yourself watching the unhelpful thoughts go past without getting caught up in them.

Define, don’t dwell.

Much of our worry is based soundly in how we feel: We’re upset, we’re angry, we’re hurting. Instead of focusing on these feelings, try to describe and define the actual problem, and then accept it for what it is. From there, you can either solve it, or vow to move beyond it.

LIST-Learning-thinking Well-being

Problem solving

Basic problem solving six points.

We all face difficult decisions and problems in our daily lives. Some problems are quite small and easy to resolve, whilst others can require some significant effort and time to work through and sort out. Whether the problem is small, medium or large, it is helpful to have a basic plan for working things out and deciding on a course of action.

The below six steps focus on identifying the particular problem, to consider and evaluate options in order to reach a decision to be acted upon and learnt from. These steps provide a framework for problem solving that can be used by individuals, couples or groups.

The next time you have a problem that you want to work upon, get a piece of paper or create a document and then work your way through the headings, making a record of the different options and steps.

  1. Identify; What is the problem? What is it that you want to change or sort out?
  2. What are the options or solutions as you see it? Consult with others in relation to the identified problem and what possible solutions.
  3. What are benefits or consequences of each option?
  4. Choose an option? This is not about this being right or wrong, it is about choosing the best available option for this particular problem and giving it a try.
  5. Put it into action? This is where the rubber hits the road, where you can make it happen
  6. Review It is always worth taking time to review results, what is the learning, what if a similar problem presented itself, would you do the same thing or are there other alternatives.

Note: Keeping a log of how you handled particular problems and the learning in relation to what worked and what you might do differently next time, will enhance your options, choices and sense of control over your life.

LIST-Learning-thinking Well-being

Keep on learning

Learning new skills can be useful and even better it can positively affect our well-being. Learning doesn’t mean having to enroll in courses or to get qualifications. There are many ways to bring learning into your life.

Many of us associate learning with childhood or our student days. As adults, it can seem as though we have less time or need to learn new things. Learning can help improve and maintain our well-being, it can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose, and connection with others. People engaged in learning report feeling better about themselves and a greater ability to cope with stress, as well has feeling more self confidence, hope and purpose.

Some scientists think that setting goals and working towards them plays an important role in the way learning influences well-being. Setting targets and hitting them can create positive feelings of accomplishment and achievement.

Give learning a go

If you want to make learning a bigger part of your life, it helps to think about learning in the broadest sense. Classes and formal courses are great ways to learn new things, but there are lots of other ways too. You might:

  • Learn to cook a favourite dish that you’ve never eaten at home.
  • Visit a gallery or museum and learn about a person or period in history that interests you.
  • Take on a new responsibility at work, such as learning to use an IT system or understanding the monthly reports.
  • Fix that broken bike or garden gate. Once you’ve done that, how about setting yourself a bigger DIY project?
  • Sign up for a course you’ve been meaning to do at a local community centre.
  • You might learn a new language, or try something practical such as plumbing.
  • Rediscover an old hobby that challenges you, whether it’s making model aeroplanes, writing stories, drawing or painting.
  • Visit a local men’s shed or check out a community group and see what they have to offer.

Check out these sites

The internet is making it easier for us all to keep on learning in new and interesting ways and in the process enhance our well-being. It is worth checking out these free resources and sites.