Mental Health

A playlist for mental wellbeing

Music has the ability to completely transform and lift a mood. This playlist, supported by advice from Life Healthcare experts, is just what you need to keep your mental health top of mind – and you’ll have a list of happy-vibe songs at the ready.

In his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, the late neurologist Oliver Sacks makes a case for the significant connection between music and being human – the extent of which, he said, the human race is yet to discover.

Music is a powerful stimulus that influences everything from mood to memory, and researchers concur that it can be used as treatment, training and therapy. In some studies, music proved to change brain waves, steady heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, autism, trauma and grief, have benefited a great deal from music therapy. We have compiled expert advice from Life Mental Health specialists and paired them with songs that are happy, uplifting and healing.

Reach out to others

Advice: ‘We need to destigmatise mental illness. We need to reach out to others and help friends cope.’

– Dr Suntheren Pillay, a psychiatrist at  Life St Joseph’s at Life Entabeni Hospital.

Song suggestion: ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers


Feed your brain

Advice: ‘Eat healthily: cut down on sugar, refined carbohydrates and other mood-altering substances such as caffeine. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids – for example salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds – to give your mood a boost.’

– Dr Lolita Mostert, a psychiatrist at Life New Kensington Clinic

Song suggestion: ‘Sunday Best’ by Surfaces

Deal with burnout

Advice: ‘If you’re dealing with burnout or you need to restore balance in your life, exercise – but train, don’t strain. Even a 10-minute walk can improve your mood for up to two hours.’

– Werner Teichert, clinical psychologist at the Life Mental Health unit at Life Poortview

Song suggestion: ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ by Justin Timberlake


Connect with others

Advice: ‘When you’re lonely, make emotional contact. You need someone to talk to and with whom to share your emotions. Cultivate a social group that meets regularly. A group gives you a sense of belonging, and we all need to belong.’

– Dr Hemant Nowbath, a psychiatrist at Life Mount Edgecombe Hospital

Song suggestion:I’ll Be There’ by Jess Glynne

Do good to feel good

Advice: ‘In the society in which we live today, many people are under a great deal of work and family stress, which can impact on health and wellbeing. Management of stress levels is important. With a positive impact on mood and mental health, philanthropic acts hold great stress-management benefits for volunteers.’

– Melinda Howlett, psychologist at Life Westville Hospital

Song suggestion: ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams

Get moving

Advice: ‘Exercise creates opportunities to meet new people, leads to a sense of wellbeing, can combat feelings of depression, increases energy levels, can reduce insomnia and can be an enjoyable part of your day.’

– Liesl Way, a physiotherapist at Life Westville Hospital

Song suggestion: ‘I Love Music’ by Lebo Mathosa

Speak up

Advice: ‘Remember that vulnerability is not a weakness. Speak up if you are struggling. Let go of the need to be perfect. Just do your best.’

– Dr Nadira Khamker, a psychiatrist at Life Riverfield Lodge, a Life Mental Health unit

Song suggestion: ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry

Take time to feel

Advice: ‘You must give yourself time to feel the emotions and grief. Take care not to isolate yourself from your support systems, including family and friends. Try and keep up your routine and remember to eat well, exercise and look after your physiological needs.’

– Dr Imthiaz Hoosen, a psychiatrist at Life St Vincent’s, a Life Mental Health unit

Song suggestion: ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles (2019 Mix)

When you’re caring for a loved one…

Advice: ‘Caregiver burnout is common and, in particular, for those caring for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. Know your own limits and have a plan in place for when the situation becomes too big to deal with – [know when you should look at external intervention and who to reach out to for help].’ 

– Ashleigh Yaman, a clinical psychologist at Life New Kensington Clinic

Song suggestion: ‘Something Inside So Strong’ by Lira

Don’t panic

Advice: ‘If you’re having a panic attack, change “What if?” to “What is”. When your thoughts start racing, your fearful cognitions can make things worse. However, “what is” is the here and now – the reality of the situation.’

– Werner Teichert, a clinical psychologist at Life Poortview, a Life Mental Health unit

Song suggestion: ‘Jika’ by Mi Casa

Believe in yourself

Advice: ‘You’re not worthy only when you reach your goal weight, your dream job or make others happy. You are enough right now. The kinder you are to yourself, the more your confidence will grow, and you’ll be in a better position to accept your failures, disappointments and challenges.’

– Janine Potgieter, a social worker at Life St Mark’s Clinic, a Life Mental Health unit 

Song suggestion: ‘Good As Hell’ by Lizzo

When illness strikes

Advice: ‘Get centred by practising the STOP technique. Stop. Take a breath. Observe your feelings. Proceed. And do it all in love and acceptance of yourself. Mindfulness meditation can also play a crucial role in coping with emotions linked to serious illness. This practice has been known to improve emotional regulation, reduce stress and have a positive effect on wellbeing.’

– Lauren Smith, a social worker at Life St Vincent’s, a Life Mental Health unit

Song suggestion: ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2

Life Mental Health is a leading provider of private acute mental health services at nine facilities in four provinces in South Africa. If you feel your mental health is taking strain, consult your GP, who can refer you to a mental health professional at a facility such as a Life Mental Health unit and listen to our curated playlist. Find a mental health professional and listen to our curated playlist.

The content provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not cover every aspect of mental health. Consult a doctor or your nearest emergency unit if you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s mental health. The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a qualified healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information