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Thread: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

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    is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    We see playing guitar as a form of mindful escapism, a way to create space between an individual and their busy mind. Guitar-playing is beneficial to your overall well-being and mental health in other ways, too, including helping you develop a greater sense of personal achievement.
    What you say about this?
    Gustavo Woltmann : UK based rock band guitarist

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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Quote Originally Posted by gustavowoltmann View Post
    We see playing guitar as a form of mindful escapism, a way to create space between an individual and their busy mind. Guitar-playing is beneficial to your overall well-being and mental health in other ways, too, including helping you develop a greater sense of personal achievement.
    What you say about this?
    Music in general, and guitar specifically, coming from someone who plays multiple instruments, I agree wholeheartedly. Music has been my salvation... The only constant in my life, for as long as I can remember, and I'm 60...

    "...put aside the alienation, get on with the fascination, the real relation, the underlying theme."
    Neil Peart (September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020)

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    I'm 58, and 40 years ago, I had a breakdown, the first of quite a few over the years. I have been markedly affected by bi-polar depression and general anxiety disorder my entire adult life. In the beginning, lithium was about the only effective drug, and it did nothing for me.

    I live in a cycle--I have a breakdown; docs find a medicine that works, and I'm usually good for 2 years before my body adjusts to the medicine and negates its effects. So then I have anywhere from 3-6 months to feel normal again. During those lows, nothing helps. However, for daily maintenance of my mind, playing guitar is only a positive. When I'm moderately anxious, time passes by so slowly that 5 minutes feels like an hour, but with the guitar in my hands, 30 minutes or an hour pass quickly. I lose myself in the guitar; the anxiety is still there but my mind concentrates on something else. If I get "in the zone", the guitar is like anti-anx meds.

    Each time I begin to emerge from a bad bout of it, music, listening or playing, always helps to keep me alive. I mean that literally. Paul McCartney's "How Kind of You"; James Taylor's Hourglass album, Cat Steven's Tea for the Tillerman album, Simon and Garfunkel's catalogue, etc. And playing has given me joy when nothing else could give me joy. Music literally heals, literally helps to rescue the mind from a dark dark abyss, helps to keep me from taking a knife and cutting my own throat.

    So, Yup.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Yes!


    Striving to be ordinary

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    Forum Member dirtdog's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    I'll be the contrarian. ;-)

    I think performing music as a musician - and probably being an active listener - is generally good for our cognitive faculties, but I won't agree with a blanket statement that music is good for mental health in all cases and all manners.

    Reason I say this is that I can point to "music" (e.g., being involved in a music making enterprise) has directly led to negative mental health outcomes for me in the past. One factor amongst many to be sure. I'm now old enough and wise enough (cough, cough) that I can recognize the early warning signals that something I'm doing musically is about to become "not good" for me and I'll change my direction. I have a ton of personal anecdotes ranging from causal to correlation.

    Now, that said, the vast majority of what I've done has been on the positive or neutral side of mental health, so I'm not a complete naysayer here. Just that, for me, music is not a panacea.

    This is a good read if you're ever interested in exploring this further: https://www.amazon.ca/This-Your-Brai.../dp/0452288525

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    I stopped performing because it made me too anxious. I was okay when I switched back to bass and stood as far away from the spotlight while performing as possible.I never want to perform live again unless it's for a very few friends at an informal get-together, and even that is questionable. You're right about this--it is too much pressure now, and I cannot take the pressure of being lead singer and guitarist and now not even as a bassist.

    I can play alone when my anxiety levels point to significant but non-crippling anxiety. I get lost in melody, not so much techniques and such.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    I have always had a hard time sleeping - my mind races well into the night. Stress, anxiety,... you name it keeps me up watching the ceiling for hours every night. Lately I pop in a good pair of earbuds, put on an album (Tea for the Tillerman" works great for this) and I just drift off to sleep. It definitely helps me recenter myself. There's probably some science out there that explains that music triggers endorphins which make us feel better...
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Reading through the replies, my sense is that I find music good for my mental health because I'm a "bedroom soloist," and don't have the anxieties of performing or the stresses of having to earn a living through my music. Any job that causes personal discomfort or upheaval will be detrimental to one's mental health. I play music solely for personal gratification and comfort, and as a result, feel my mental aptitude and health is much improved.
    Striving to be ordinary

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    Forum Member vinyl's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fortunato View Post
    Music in general, and guitar specifically, coming from someone who plays multiple instruments, I agree wholeheartedly. Music has been my salvation... The only constant in my life, for as long as I can remember, and I'm 60...
    Some of us have no other way to express ourselves. For me personally, I can't really do it with words, art, or anything else, though I dabbled in photography for a while. I think what attracted me was the technical aspect of photography during the film days.
    For me it's through a musical instrument, if it's a guitar or some other musical instrument. Even if no one is listening, I'm still expressing myself. You can pile on other shit, like anxiety, or the possibility of ridicule.

    In my opinion, playing a musical instrument is good for your mental health. Not just a guitar, but any instrument.

    Cheers,
    vinyl

    I also think it is a shame that this post ended up in the "other guitars" subforum.

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    vinyl, I'm glad you have the guitar to express yourself. My songwriting and other writings give me a means to express myself in ways that I can't otherwise.

    Perhaps we could get the thread moved to The Whammy Bar if the thread seems to stay alive.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Quote Originally Posted by vinyl View Post

    I also think it is a shame that this post ended up in the "other guitars" subforum.
    Good call Vinyl! I moved it to the Whammy Bar.

    And, for me, good gravy yes! Playing is incredibly good for my mental health. I have a very stressful job, and without music in my life, I don't know what I'd do.

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    Forum Member vinyl's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Here is a story of one of my ancestors. My great-grandfather came here from Germany in 1865. Little command of the English language. But everyone played an instrument, and that's the way they "entertained" themselves. No TV, no radio, stressful jobs, (in this case, imagine attending school is a job) my great aunt didn't start speaking English until she started kindergarten.

    My point is we all have stress. Even when and if you retire, your stress may change from your job to your health, or just simple grief over the loss of a wife or other loved one.

    Thanks to chwillie for suggesting this thread get moved, and pc for actually moving it.

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    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    My story with music is too long for me to tell it here but I can certainly tell you that playing guitar in a band is probably the best thing in my life, and my life ain't a bad one in general.

    I like being a lawyer, I have enjoyed well my bachelor times, am about to get married to a lady I really love and being in my 40s I am lucky enough to still have family around me, both my parents still being alive and ok.

    But I would never be really ME if I had never picked up a guitar, jammed with friends and stepped onto a real stage, with people paying to see my band play.

    No matter how tough the times are, picking up a guitar will soothe me, it's a relief and a painkiller.

    pre-gig tension is there and even makes my tendonitis come and go, but the act of playing guitar and being in a band is something that, in simple words, makes my life better.

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    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    Quote Originally Posted by ch willie View Post
    I stopped performing because it made me too anxious. I was okay when I switched back to bass and stood as far away from the spotlight while performing as possible.I never want to perform live again unless it's for a very few friends at an informal get-together, and even that is questionable. You're right about this--it is too much pressure now, and I cannot take the pressure of being lead singer and guitarist and now not even as a bassist.

    I can play alone when my anxiety levels point to significant but non-crippling anxiety. I get lost in melody, not so much techniques and such.

    I can relate to that. But not necessarily in an identical way.

    Anxiety is a bitch and I know it well. Been there, done that, still do. A lot.

    Pre-gig stress still hauts me and enhances my tendonitis pretty badly. I thought of retiring, many times.

    But I need the thrill of playing professionally. I really can't picture myself away from stages and crowds. I know I will stop gigging, eventually. Probably sooner than I'd like to. But being in the local scene and being a "working guitarist" is kind of an obsession to me.

    I confess: I probably will be happier when I am ready to leave the duties behind and just crank my amp and play for myself in my garage. No doubt. But I'm not ready to leave all that adrenaline behind, yet. Not just yet.

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    Forum Member jrgtr42's Avatar
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    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    This is a yes and no. To those of us here, the LPF and so on, yes, playing guitar is good for mental health. For someone else, it may not be.
    I'll say that a person's hobbies and pastimes are good for the health. So for some of us, it's playing guitar, for someone else, maybe golf or boating, knitting, and so on ad nauseum.
    Someone who claims to have no hobbies or anything would likely be the most tense person out there - they go to work, come home and what, sit in front of the TV all night? maybe that would be considered a hobby?
    But for me, yes, I like sitting down with a guitar and just strumming - whether it's playing a song or not, just the action takes me away.
    ********************************
    "Do you call sleeping with a guitar in your hands practicing?"
    "It is if you don't drop it."
    - Trent Lane, Daria, Episode 1-2.

  16. #16

    Re: is playing guitar is good for your mental health?

    as you know we can all think of at least one song that, when we hear it, triggers an emotional response. It might be a song that accompanied the first dance at your wedding, for example, or a song that reminds you of a difficult break-up or the loss of a loved one.
    Gustavo Woltmann : UK based rock band guitarist

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