4 Mental Health Lessons from Taylor Swift’s Red

February 20, 2024

We can draw many mental health lessons for daily life from Taylor Swift’s vast music catalog. As the songstress rerecords her albums, we reflect on the 4 mental health lessons from Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version).

Previous Album: Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)

This image is a promotional graphic for mental health lessons from Taylor Swift's "Red (Taylor's Version)." On the left side, there are four icons, each paired with a title of a song from the album and a related mental health message. The first, representing "All Too Well (10-Minute Version)," mentions that discussing feelings and painful situations is hard but necessary for healing. The second, "Treacherous," questions why one would continue doing something known to be harmful. The third, "Nothing New (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)," emphasizes the importance of expressing thoughts and feelings instead of repressing them. The fourth, "Starlight," advises focusing on controllable aspects of life and letting go of what cannot be controlled. On the right side, there's a close-up image of Taylor Swift wearing a brown beret, looking contemplative. The bottom cites Meghan Rydzewski, MFT, as the source of the content, and the top displays the logo "COUNCIL FOR RELATIONSHIPS.

Infographic by Council for Relationships

Important mental health lessons from Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) for everyday life

Red is an amazing album that details the emotions Swift was experiencing during this era of her life. Taylor Swift originally released Red in 2012 and re-recorded it in 2021 under the title Red (Taylor’s Version).

Red (Taylor’s Version) encompasses many of Swift’s raw emotions portrayed beautifully throughout this album. You may find the following Taylor Swift’s songs relatable if you are struggling with mental health. This is true whether you are in high school, college, or beyond. Here are 4 important mental health takeaways from Red (Taylor’s Version).

Mental Health Lesson #1: All Too Well (10-Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)

This song describes a flashback, a memory that is hard to shake. This often occurs that people may have a hard time talking about. When we recall past experiences that cause pain, many people try to forget that it ever happened. It’s tough to realize that you cared more than the other person and they didn’t treat you well.

Swift’s lyrics say,

“You kept me like a secret // but I kept you like an oath.”

Swift is expressing feeling hidden and treated unequally.

“They say all’s well that ends well but I’m in a new hell every time you double-cross my mind.”

Feeling anxious can cause physical symptoms like sweating, fast heartbeat, and stomach dropping. It’s important to find ways to calm yourself during these moments. Reminding yourself that you are safe and that you are not in the same situation you were in before is also important.

I encourage you to speak up about any situation that has occurred that you feel like you want to stuff down and forget about. Talking about feelings and painful situations can be hard, but talking about them is a start to a healing journey.

Mental Health Lesson #2: Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)

Throughout this song, it shows that Swift knows that what she wants is not good for her, but she likes it anyway. She explains it in this lyric:

“This path is reckless // this slope is treacherous // and I // I // I like it.”

Swift also explains that,

“Nothing safe is worth the drive and I will follow you // follow you home.”

This shows that Swift knows this love isn’t good for her but she is willing to follow it anyway, whether it is good for her or not.

Loving someone and knowing that they aren’t good for you is difficult to come to terms with. We can decide what is healthy, but our emotions can cloud our judgment.

When this occurs, I challenge you to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at the situation like you are not in it. Ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  • What advice would you give to someone else?
  • What do you think prevents you from taking your own advice?
  • Who can you talk to about these conflicting feelings?

It takes a lot of courage even to challenge yourself and ask if something is not good for you and you know it, why are you doing it?

Mental Health Lesson #3: Nothing New Feat. Phoebe Bridgers (Taylor’s Version)

Nothing New is a beautiful song featuring one of my other favorite artists, Phoebe Bridgers. Swift and Bridgers sing this song so well together, and seeing it live is a memory I will fondly look back on.

Nothing New is about someone who isn’t new and feels less excited than she used to. Swift asks if people will still want her when she is nothing new. This song showcases Swift’s sensitivity and conveys her deepest fears of being unwanted after the “newness” fades.

Swift is mirroring normal emotions that everyday humans feel. In relationships, people may worry that the other person will lose interest or find someone else more interesting. These fears are real, but it is important to acknowledge your fears and talk about them.

It is critical to develop healthy coping skills. Swift writes her music in a way that shows how she feels at that specific time in her life. She uses music as a way to express herself and her feelings.

If you don’t want to write music to express your feelings, try journaling, writing poetry, or talking to a friend in person or on social media. Any way you can get your thoughts and feelings out without bottling them up is important.

Mental Health Lesson #4: Starlight (Taylor’s Version)

This song is upbeat, with an overall positive vibe and a strong message. A lyric in the song has always stuck out to me.

“Look at you worrying too much about things you can’t change.”

My grandma always told me not to worry about things I can’t change and to focus on what I can change. Swift’s message is about valuing small things, such as starlight, rather than stressing about things that cause anxiety. We should take the time to appreciate the beauty in the little things around us, like the wonders of starlight. Instead of focusing on things that make us anxious, we can find peace and joy in life’s simple pleasures.

This is a great overall message to people in their everyday lives. Focus on the things you can control, and try to let go of the things you can’t. Spending time worrying about something that is out of your control will only cause more anxiety.

I suggest finding something each day, big or small, to appreciate and focus on, even if it is for 5 minutes.


Meghan Rydzewski (pictured here) is a CFR Staff Therapist

About the Author

Meghan Rydzewski, MFT, is a Staff Therapist at Council for Relationships. Contact her to book a therapy appointment with Meghan if you’re facing mental health challenges.

Meghan helps people who are coping with stress and other mental health problems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Tell your friends and family members to reach out to her for support. She can help you feel good, find happiness, and other personal goals. 

Your mental (and physical) health is important to us. If you are looking for individual, couples, or family therapy or psychiatry services, click here to request an appointment. See our Therapist & Psychiatrist Directory for additional CFR therapists or psychiatrists near you. If this is an emergency, dial 9-1-1. 

More from the Taylor Swift Songs About Mental Health Series

Did you enjoy this blog on mental health lessons from Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version)? Our expert therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists offer so much more to explore! Check out the CFR Expert Voices blog for great mental and emotional health advice and insight. Here are a few recent blogs we think you will enjoy. To get first access to our Expert Voices blog, join our mailing list!

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