Wake up. Scroll through Instagram, Twitter, TikTok. Get out of bed. Eat breakfast. Sit at the desk and work or study. Eat. Hang out. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
Quarantine has been boring. At times, it’s been exciting. But it’s also been painful… depressing… painfully depressing?
The adjustment towards repetitive and dull routines has been a common-felt experience shared by Generation Z as we simultaneously try to reconcile our anxiety for our futures, and desire to enjoy the unexpected excuse to slow the pace of our lifestyles.
Yet although life can feel dull, the effect of COVID 19 has been one of the most impactful events on the entire world in the twentieth century. The generational stress for young people has been compounded by not only the anxieties of the now – to pray for the health and mental wellbeing of ourselves, friends, and family – but the fear of our inevitable future. Will I be able to succeed in online schooling? I have to be on school campus but will I contract coronavirus? Why do I feel like I’m losing friends? Will I be allowed to enter my country of
schooling or work? What kind of economy will we graduate into? Will I be able to find a job after? What has the world come to?
We read dozens of emails and hundreds of articles describing this period as “uncertain times.” It’s been used so often that it’s now become cliché within a matter of a couple months. But there doesn’t seem to be a more accurate descriptor of our current world. And these uncertain times have shaken the mental health of young people across the globe. It’s both the lack of control in our external circumstances that trigger our need for control in our day to day lives.
The music we choose to listen to has become a form of therapeutic control through quarantine.
On average, almost 1 in 3 youth (between ages 13-18) will experience anxiety disorder. In fact, approximately 10-20% of youth in Canada are affected by mental illness, and by age 40, almost 50% of the population will have experienced mental illness.
In short, that’s basically a lot of numbers to illustrate how mental illness is a widespread phenomenon, although it may feel isolating and unordinary when you are a victim to it.
The compound effect of the uncertainties and anxieties that come with COVID-19 and social isolation can further aggravate this issue, which is why music has arguably become even more powerful and unifying for youth in 2020.
Aside from creating a sense of unity and societal connection through viral pop songs and TikTok trends, music has scientifically proven benefits for mental health and brain activity. Notably, decreasing stress, pain, and depression while improving other cognitive skills.
Music also has the power of evoking emotions or triggering memories associated with particular feelings. We often find ourselves listening to not only music we enjoy, but songs with positive associations to certain memories that invoked joy, excitement, sadness… as a means to feel these emotions once again. But as we stay more physically isolated to keep our communities safe, we can continue to make more memories and positive associations to music rather than clinging onto ‘memories of the past.’
So if you’re still reading this article, I hope you give yourself the chance to truly explore the infinite options of music out there. It’s actually good for you!
If you ever catch yourself bored and out of ideas to stay entertained, I recommend trying the music sharing function on Spotify to make even more positive memories associated with not only songs, but entire playlists. (Just click on the green text with the name of your connected device on the mobile app to have access to “Start a group session.”)
Aside from cognitive effects and popular trends, see how you enjoy connecting with new people, friends, and family through music.
Although life might feel like it’s been put on pause in certain aspects, music can become not only your personal (and free) therapist, but a means to create new memories when things feel dull.