Nothing hurts worse than a broken heart. That’s why, for some people, listening to that perfect break-up song that encapsulates your pain perfectly is as helpful as venting to friends or family.
A 2014 study found that listening to sad music, including when experiencing love sickness or a breakup, can lead to emotional benefits.
The authors wrote: “Music-evoked sadness … plays a role in wellbeing, by providing consolation as well as by regulating negative moods and emotions.”
Professor Bill Thompson from Macquarie University agrees.
“Music is one of those comprehensive activities; we're thinking about movement, we're thinking about past memories, we're emotional, we have a lot of mind wandering and imaginative processes,” he told ABC Life.
“In simple terms, it helps us become more open-minded.”
Tasmanian artist and songwriter Claire Anne Taylor explained that she feels less isolated when experiencing heartbreak by listening to sad songs.
“When I'm going through a rough patch and I hear the words that the artist is singing and they resonate with me, I personally feel like I'm not alone in my suffering,” she says.
Thompson agrees, but only to a certain point. You don’t want to listen to the sad songs so much that you start to ruminate on the memory of a person or sad situation.
“Ruminating is something people can fall into easily. It's a comfort, because you're used to going over old ground, but it’s not an effective strategy for moving on,” he says.
“You're nursing the wound, thinking this is so awful, and there is comfort just going right inside that negative feeling.”
However, this can be fixed by changing the meaning that’s been attached to the sad event. For example, it might help to look at a breakup as a new beginning instead of an upsetting end.
“Change the meaning that you have constructed out of the event … Build up your sense of identity and listen to music that has personal meaning and has been with you for a long time – that defines who you are.”
What songs do you listen to when you’re going through a tough time?