If you know me then you’ll know I’m a massive music lover, so today I wanted to talk about some of my favourite songs that can be related to recovery that I find to be quite empowering. These songs are all part of the playlist I listen to when I’m sad, or when I need motivation to stay on track with recovery, and I hope that someone else can find them as helpful as I do.
Demi Lovato – Old Ways
This is a song about celebrating progress in recovery and letting go of self doubt and the fear of relapsing. Demi sings about not going back to her “old ways”, referring to her struggled with self-injury, an eating disorder, and substance misuse, and asserts her certainty in herself that she will carry on recovering no matter how much people doubt her. Overall, the song is very positive and uplifting, and hearing a sufferer of mental illness being so empowered definitely helps me a lot when I need a reminder that getting better is possible.
Favourite lyrics: Black into gold, who knew it’d be so bright without the blindfolds?
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
One of the things I like most about this song is the sense of anger, and although it seems more like a breakup song than a recovery song, I feel like the message can be applied to getting better too. Sometimes I just need it drilling into me that things aren’t over, and this song is a perfect reminder that nothing that comes my way is going to be enough to defeat me and make me give up on recovery.
Favourite lyrics: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller
Eminem & Sia – Beautiful Pain
This song is one of my favourites, I only discovered it a few weeks ago, but since I did it has been a go-to when I’m down. It talks powerfully about letting go of the past, and embracing the pain of it to become a stronger person. I don’t think my words can do this song justice, I just find it very impactful and would recommend that you listen to it.
Favourite lyrics: Today is a painful reminder of why we can only get brighter
Sia – Alive
Sia is one of my favourite artists when it comes to empowering music, as you’ll probably see from how many of her songs are going to be in this list. Alive is one of my favourites because it is so uplifting, and like ‘Stronger’, serves as a reminder that things aren’t over. This song is definitely a source of strength for me when I feel down, and helps me get back on my feet with its powerful vocals and message.
Favourite lyrics: You took it all, but I’m still breathing
Demi Lovato – Warrior
No recovery playlist would be complete with this song. The way the lyrics go from talking about being broken to being strong and untouchable sends a striking message about how no matter how difficult things can be in your life, the ‘wounds’ they leave can be transformed into strength, and the way Demi talks about taking her life back is so helpful to hear.
Favourite lyrics: Now I’ve got thicker skin, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been
Fifth Harmony – That’s My Girl
Although it is quite different from the other songs in my playlist, it is just a very empowering song that cheers me up a lot, even if it doesn’t necessarily link to recovery very strongly (and no discussion about music with me would be complete without 5H). The song’s message is that if you want something, you have to “get up and get it”, and that you are capable of achieving the things that you desire. For me, it is a reminder that even if I feel I’m in a situation I cannot make it through, I have already made it through every other situation that I’ve felt that way in, and it also reminds me that I have a lot of support around me from people who want me to recover.
Favourite lyrics: You’ve been down before, you’ve been hurt before, you got up before, you’ll be good to go
David Guetta & Sia – Titanium
This is a song I’ve loved since it was released over 5 years ago (which makes me feel really old), and it is the first song I remember that really spoke to me and empowered me. Plus it’s just a great song. When I hear it, it brings up the question in me, ‘what can people really do to hurt me?’, and it helps a lot when I begin to worry about how others perceive me.
Favourite lyrics: I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Katy Perry – Rise
In this song, Katy addresses self-doubt and talks about how she will prosper in the face of anything that comes her way. I feel like the lyrics are very direct and speak to me personally, and for that reason I find this song to be very empowering and encouraging.
Favourite lyrics: Oh, you have so little faith, don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it. Victory is in my veins
Sia – Elastic Heart
When I was first starting to recover, me and my therapist talked about this song a lot because I felt that it helped me so much to gain self-belief and determination to get better. It definitely gave me strength and helped me believe I was capable of recovery, and still helps me reassure myself of that now. Also, the piano version is brilliant.
Favourite lyrics: You did not break me, I’m still fighting for peace
Sia – Unstoppable
This song is very upbeat, and although its message may not be as deep and meaningful as some of the other songs in my playlist, even just the simple repetition of “I’m unstoppable today” in the choruses is empowering enough for me. If you ever see me walking way too confidently with my earphones in, this song is probably playing.
Favourite lyrics: I’m so confident, I’m unstoppable today
Sia – Never Give Up
This song is similarly upbeat and also has a positive message repeated as opposed to having a deeper message run through the song.
Favourite lyrics: And I won’t let you get me down, I’ll keep gettin’ up when I hit the ground
P!nk – F**kin’ Perfect
(Trigger Warning for self-harm in the music video, 2:23 to 3:06.)
This song is all about letting go of self-doubt and replacing it with self love. Alecia sings about making mistakes throughout her life and beating herself up over them, before changing her self image and reassuring herself that she’s “fucking perfect”. It’s an emotional song, but even if you cry for 3 minutes 33 seconds, the message will sink in and hopefully help keep your self image on the more positive side when you need it to be. More than anything, I really just love how this song says it’s okay to make mistakes, it speaks to me a lot.
Favourite lyrics: Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game. It’s enough! I’ve done all I can think of, chased down all my demons, I’ve seen you do the same
James Arthur – Recovery
This song is definitely on the sadder side, but it’s a good reminder that recovery is in your hands, and James enforces a sense of strength when he says he is in charge and in control of his recovery. It’s definitely a powerful song, and one of the songs from this playlist that I’d recommend you listen to the most.
Favourite lyrics: In the sound of the sea, in the oceans of me, I defined, I designed, my recovery
My favourite thing about this song is how the verses have a sadder tone to them, talking about relationships failing and general hurt, and then the chorus is like the equivalent of being pulled to your feet and shaken out of it, and the sadness is replaced with strength. This song is very empowering and I often find it useful when going through rough patches, because the lyrics acknowledge that you’ll be hurt at times, but you have to keep going.
Favourite lyrics: But just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die. You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Coldplay – Yellow
Although this song doesn’t talk about mental health or recovery in any way, it’s just a really beautiful and positive song that I adore and put in most playlists I make. It’s a reminder that I’m growing, and the work I’m putting in to recover is turning out to be worth it if I just take a step back and look at the things I admire and value about myself.
Favourite lyrics: Oh yeah your skin and bones, turn into something beautiful
Of Mice & Men – Space Enough To Grow
This is a song that always helps me at very low points. When I want to give up, this song is a powerful reminder that there’s still something to hold on for, and there’s hope inside me whether I want to admit it or not. It’s a really beautiful song that, as ridiculous as this sounds, really reaches in and pulls strength out of me.
Favourite lyrics: Deep inside of all of us there’s something left to hold, even when we give up all hope, there’s space enough to grow
My playlist can be found above, I haven’t talked about all of the songs on here, but I really enjoyed writing this post, so let me know if you’d like to see a part 2 when I find more songs to talk about! Also, please be sure to check back on my blog across the next week, as I will be posting every single day from February 27th-March 5th as part of Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have found this post helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your recovery. Keep growinggg!