Listening to sad songs can actually help you feel better
So you just experienced the breakup to end all breakups and now all you want to do is lie on the floor with the lights out and listen to The Beatles’ “Yesterday” on repeat for the rest of your life. While your roommates may be gently suggesting that you turn down the music and get off the floor, science is on your side here.
As Science Daily reports, musicology researchers at Durham University, UK and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland recently published a study in scientific journal PLOS ONE that investigated the experiences 2,436 people in the UK and Finland had listening to weepy music. And, as it turns out, the majority of the people surveyed actually reported that their moods improved after listening to some downer tunes.
So sad feelings plus sad songs equals feeling better, how does that work? The researchers report that some listeners just felt better listening to good music, even if it happened to skew sad. For others, their depressing jams brought back memories, and listeners felt better revisiting that yesterday, when their troubles seemed so far away…
Note that though the majority of people felt better after listening to a sad sack playlist, this was by no means the emotional experience of everyone who participated in the study. A significant amount of participants told the researchers that when they are in pain, the very LAST thing they want to hear is someone sing about how they, the songwriter, are also in pain. These people don’t derive pleasure from the sheer awesomeness of the music, nor does dwelling in memories bring them comfort. For some people, sad music just makes them even more sad.
All of this is to say, if a Beatles breakup song is the only thing that makes you feel better during times of crisis, to paraphrase/butcher Shakespeare, music is the food of love, so ignore your roommates and play on. However, if bummer music is just going to make you feel even more bummed out, blast something with a beat and d-d-d-dance it out.