How Taylor Swift has altered your brain for the better.

I am a melomaniac. I LOVE talking about music, sharing lyrics, discovering artists like a new crush, bingeing on tracks from new bands and wallowing under the familiar knowingness of a well-loved bridge.

'Thank You for the Music' by ABBA is one of my favourite songs ever. Genuinely, I am so grateful for it. I "danced myself right out the womb" as Marc Bolan would say and I’ll "dance myself into the tomb". I was raised on Dylan, Bowie and Tom Waits who sat alongside ABBA, Bananarama and Eurovision.

Peers. No pretension. If you like it, you listen. There is no 'bad' music, if it makes you feel something.

Breathing music and lyrics into your blood and bones alters your state of consciousness, it changes your neurochemistry and it is something I recommend to anyone who will listen. I have no training, cannot play an instrument and those of you unfortunate enough to have heard me sing will know, it’s not about THAT.

The frisson that hits you right in the heart/temple/pelvis, THAT’s it. A chemical reaction that creates emotional flow when everything aligns and you feel like a three-minute song is as powerful as a 300-page novel.

We've pulled together our all-time favourite Taylor songs plus Mamamia's juiciest podcast episodes about the tortured poet we all know and love. Listen to it below: 

Music activates your limbic system, the place where all emotions are born. Feelings of connection, validation, and empowerment result or as Sir Elton wrote, "when every single word makes sense, well it’s easier to have those songs around".

Music helps us better understand our own experiences, express them and work through them. It influences our view of the world, of ourselves and others, developing skills of empathy, resilience and compassion. It helps us understand concepts that we may not have mastery or experience of yet.


Anyone who has ever screamed Alanis Morrisette at the top of their lungs knows how cathartic music can be. It helps us identify, validate, express and process our emotions. It’s more powerful than a drug in what it does to our state of being. So, TURN. IT. UP. I say!

Research has long shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep, boost mood, and increase mental alertness, cognitive functioning and memory. Since headphones were invented (and probably long before) young people have argued with parents and teachers about the need for music to help them study. My ADHD brain certainly knew this before it knew it even had ADHD, and my Honours dissertation would not have been possible without Radiohead’s ‘High and Dry’.

Music therapy is an evidence-based practice that for decades has been shown to benefit people with serious mental health and physical conditions. It can help when we are suffering and promotes wellbeing. But this piece is not only about the general benefits of music to our psychology, it is about the specific benefits of Taylor Swift and her Eras Tour.

Taylor Swift during her Eras Tour at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Image: Getty.


The Eras phenomenon engulfed our country. Positively infecting and impacting our collective emotions, conversations, behaviours, even our economy, Taylor Swift’s seven concerts have generated a cultural impact like no other before. The reasons above likely contribute to that. But there is so much more to this phenomenon than just that.

The concept of 'Eras' is genius to my therapist's brain. It really is simply put a greatest-hits tour, right? But the word and concept as adopted into our everyday language has become so much more. We use it to describe periods of growth and development that we experience. Moments in our evolution as humans. More than just a comparison of 'Red' to 'Folklore' and the growth in between, the 'Eras' of each individual listener are being reflected upon and THIS is such an important part of human growth, change, development and HEALING.


Listening to the 44-song set list is like watching Taylor parading all of her 'parts' (a term from Internal Family Systems Therapy) up and down the stage for us. Each of them has a place in her story, her evolution. There are no bad parts, just experiences, 'eras', that she grew through. Palpable emotional suffering, raw hurt sit alongside hopeless optimism and unbridled joy. Life is movement, life is suffering, nothing stays the same. It really is an homage to the power of change.

If the key to enlightenment and 'peace' is the acceptance of impermanence, then this conceptual representation of her music suggests that Taylor Swift is in a very good place at the moment. And it’s NOT because she has a boyfriend. It is because she has worked through the pain and suffering of each Era to emerge stronger, wiser and more resilient. She knows herself, accepts herself and loves herself, all parts of her.

The concert itself is also a therapeutic experience. When people ask me how it was, I describe it as like being in a 'love bubble'. This sounds ridiculous and hugely dramatic, but if you were there, I am sure you agree (and I am SO aware of how difficult tickets were and feel so much for those of you not lucky enough to attend).

Experientially in the MCG, but really in and around Melbourne, walking around you could FEEL it as well as see it. Peace, love, tolerance, acceptance, consideration and inclusion, wrapped in a mirror ball and reflected everywhere. Walking along the Southbank the music was everywhere and fans were smiling at one another, chatting to strangers in restaurants, taking photos for one another. Invisible strings connecting everyone effortlessly.


I was in Melbourne for 30 hours in total and it restored my faith in humanity. COVID, war, greed, violence and devastation in the world added to the environmental car crash we are all hurtling towards creates such an awful picture of who we are as humans and a very bleak vision of our future. The Eras Tour shows us in a tiny and specific way, the power of love and connection, and the difference it can make.

At the events:

  • Everyone dressed in fun bright colours – dopamine overload – and complimented one another;
  • Orderly merch queues, when sold out no one got angry;
  • Bracelet making and swapping; human connection;
  • Family picnics outside the stadium;
  • People making new friends with strangers;
  • No pushing in lines;
  • No obnoxious drunk people;
  • Toilets were gender-free;
  • People were helping one another;
  • People were CHATTING to one another in their seats, sharing food and stories;
  • There were no huge piles of rubbish; and
  • Everyone was singing, and everyone knew the words to songs (I apologise to the poor woman in front of me who likely has significant hearing loss from my screeching).

Taylor Swift performs during the Eras Tour in Los Angeles, August 2023. Image: Getty.


My final two points make me very emotional. It was safe. I felt safe. I felt safe on the train. In the city. In the stadium. In the lines. In the park. After dark. Walking home in a city that wasn’t mine. In sparkly pants. Surrounded by people who were radiating joy, I felt safe. What an unusual thing to feel as a woman in 2024. That’s the part that made me cry.

I felt LOVE. Genuine love, of every kind. There was no shoving, no aggression. There were tears of joy, of heartbreak, of hope, of loss… love love love. Everywhere. It really was all around. The simplicity and beauty of it made my heart explode. And I got to share it with one of the humans I love more than life itself, my girl.

I really want to thank you Taylor Swift. Thank you for the music, the songs you’re singing. Thanks for all the joy you’re bringing. You are a love generator. Your genius, integrity and authenticity is such a powerful force for change. I am so very glad I got to bask in your glow.

Hazel McKenzie is the founder and principal psychologist at Change Rooms, a private psychology and mental health practice based in Sydney.

This piece originally appeared on Change Rooms and has been republished with full permission.

Featured Image: Getty.

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