8 reasons why playing guitar is good for your mental health

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6. It enables you to express your feelings

We all have those moments when it’s hard to verbally express our feelings, but many guitarists find it easier to show their emotion, to process their feelings and to feel truly heard through playing the guitar. Kirk Windstein of Crowbar is one such guitarist: “I run through a lot of emotions while playing guitar. It's a perfect vehicle for letting out my feelings,” he tell us. “While playing, I often feel my aggression, my sadness and any anxiety leaving my mind and body.”

For some of you, playing the guitar might be a hugely cathartic way to communicate your views, your feelings, passions and fears… Distilling it all into a haunting guitar riff, a blistering solo or a few simple chords – and in a way you might never be able to with words. Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy finds resonance with this:  “I've always been a fairly shy person in general and one that doesn't talk that much... So guitar playing has always been a way I can express myself to others.”

7. Playing guitar boosts your confidence

Learning to play the guitar can have an enormously positive effect on your self-esteem and confidence. As you learn to play, and continue to improve, chances are you’ll end up playing in front of a family member, a mate, some potential bandmates or even an audience. 

Playing guitar in front of others, however scary at first, will build your confidence in expressing yourself publicly and sharing your creativity. This can help you in a study or work context, too, as playing guitar to others inadvertently teaches you ‘presentation skills’, including how to speak to a crowd – even if it is just your mum to begin with.

Ultimately, the more you improve at playing guitar the bigger the gains to your self-esteem and confidence. That in turn will give you an increased sense of satisfaction, helping you to feel good about yourself; an important ally in the war against mental health.

Guitar playing has always been a way I can express myself to others

Jeff Loomis, Arch Enemy

8. It helps you to feel part of something bigger

As we now know, there are several ways in which playing the guitar can improve your mental health and overall wellbeing. But perhaps the greatest way is how it connects us to each other. Paul McManus of Music For All has first-hand experience of how the guitar can be a gateway to helping all of us feel connected to something bigger: “One of the great powers of making music is that it brings people together. Music knows no barriers.”

It doesn’t matter where in the world you are playing guitar right now. Whether you’re playing alone or with other musicians, know that you are part of a family. One that understands the transformational power of the guitar.