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Pre Eurovision Euphoria, Mental Well-Being, And The Song Contest Written by on May 8, 2024

Why do we all enjoy the Eurovision Song Contest? Nicky Teare explores the euphoria that our Contest offers, how it can offer us purpose, and the difference it can make to our well-being.

Editor’s Note: The following article discusses mental health, including suicidal ideation.

The purpose of therapy can be seen as alleviating psychological distress. However, this does not mean that it has to involve concentrating on suffering, pain and problems.

Understanding and appreciating factors that illuminate a person’s world can be incredibly important, especially in times of difficulty. Having examined post-Eurovision depression last year, I am now examining what could be termed Pre-Eurovision Euphoria, or how the Eurovision Song Contest can help contribute to our mental well-being.

Katrina Leskanich (Photo:

Katrina Leskanich (Photo:

What makes life worth living is perhaps a topic too big even for an ESC Insight article, but I’ll have a go at covering it in a couple of paragraphs.  In my younger days, during a period of suicidal ideation, I claimed that one of the reasons I did not take my own life was because I wanted to find out whether the United Kingdom would win Eurovision. Note that even though some may have described me as such at the time, this is not quite as nuts as it first sounds, as it was 1997.  For many years, I thought this was just a flippant line, but now I realise there is a lot of truth in it.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, the UK’s National Health Service offers links to many resources. Outside of the UK please check with your own health services.

Giving Meaning and Purpose to Life

The factors that give life purpose and meaning are unique to each individual, but for many of us the Eurovision Song Contest comes into this.  The immense curiosity to find out what will actually happen at an event that has huge value for you can be not just a great motivation to keep existing but also provide energy, focus, excitement and a sense of being alive.  Depression can often manifest as a loss of interest in all aspects of life. Having something that sparks interest and that you enjoy on many levels to look forward to and revel in can be very beneficial mentally.

The Song Contest can offer a distraction from issues someone may want to escape, as, of course, can many other things. Eurovision can differ because of the depth of commitment many of us fans have for it. We tend to spend a lot of time on it, be that through ranking the songs, commenting online, attending events, predicting, or betting and backing our favourite songs.  It may be an illusion, but rather than passively consuming an entertainment product, there is a greater feeling that we are actively engaging with it. It is much easier to stay present and connected in the moment and experience the flow that can come from that.

The benefits of experiencing moments of awe have been widely researched and Eurovision offers so many of these. From the song you are supporting winning to seeing your favourite Eurovision song ever live to hearing a new song you’ll love forever for the first time, moments related to the contest can live with you forever.

Eurovision offers us a chance to make autonomous choices involving authenticity and creating identities. Which is quite a grand way of describing the process of picking who your twelve points go to. Different terms are often used, but “being yourself” is often associated with psychological well-being. Eurovision can offer a space where expressing your genuine feelings and desires takes precedence rather than liking what is “good” or “cool.” My conception of this is probably slightly out of date though as I have been openly mocked for loving Iceland’s song this year.

What goes into a choice is incredibly complex. It could be that you’ve found a very comfortable identity as a Balkan ballad lover. Embracing this year’s Serbian song could, therefore, bring you feelings of belonging and comfort—even though obviously, you probably much prefer ‘Scared of Heights.’

Being a Part of the Community

Social connection can play a huge part in wellbeing, and Eurovision offers so much.  People have met some of the closest people in their lives through the Song Contest, which is absolutely wonderful, but I think Eurovision also offers a wider benefit. Interacting with another human can make you feel seen and, to some degree, contribute to feelings of your existence being validated. Be it a two-minute discussion online as to whether Denmark is sailing through or dead in the water, or a brief chat at an event as to where the BBC go from here, Eurovision offers a defined subject to help ease what could be awkward social interactions for many.

Self-acceptance is also often seen as a key component of psychological health. Finding others with the same ‘weird’ passion as you for Eurovision can be liberating. To claim that the community is always welcoming, tolerant and free of judgement would be a stretch.  However, rather than factors that can lead to judgement in wider society, such as your occupation, body, marital status or wealth, at Eurovision, you are far more likely to be judged on whether you liked Cha Cha Cha or Tattoo.  I have found it a truly diverse and accepting place and although far from always the case, often some who may struggle to feel accepted elsewhere do express a sense of belonging in the Eurovision community.

Acceptance from others can aid self-acceptance, but there are also other opportunities at Eurovision for more self-led reflections on acceptance. It’s a controversial area, especially this year, as some claim you should just not like certain songs. I admire those who openly express their admiration for entries deemed impermissible, such as Electro Velvet. Accepting that you do like a song even though it may be politically dodgy or by an artist you dislike can, I think, lead to increased self-compassion and awareness.

There are many other areas, perhaps not all of which are always seen as wholesome as some of the above, where I think Eurovision can also benefit us mentally.

The Difference Is Engagement

Exercising power and influence isn’t something we all idealistically move towards, but in the Eurovision world, this can be easier to do than in other spheres of life. Even just by voting in a poll, you can feel you have some impact on a world you care about a lot.  The many tweeters, YouTubers, TikTokers, bloggers and websites, such as this one, can feel they have power and influence.  There can also be a thrill for many in challenging perceived authorities such as these and having your voice heard.

Sublimation refers to a defence mechanism where unacceptable feelings are channelled and expressed in a way that is less harmful for us.  The example often given is a child who displays violent tendencies taking up boxing as an outlet for their behaviour.  This isn’t a justification for what is often “robust”, and sometimes just abusive, online discourse in the community, as Eurovision can be a channel for what are often considered less attractive emotions. Letting out your anger in an online debate about whether producers should get to decide the running under can be a useful channel if you are feeling frustrated.  As long as you’re not directly insulting the artist, having an intense dislike for a song and being delighted when it doesn’t qualify may not be attractive to many, but can be a victimless crime that can release some of these feelings within you.

“United by Music” is now the official slogan of the Eurovision Song Contest, and the feeling of connection and shared purpose can lead to feelings of well-being for many.  It is possible though to take the same view as Albert Camus, that  “Unity… is always coercive, a fiction laid over disunity” and still see this element of the Contest as valuable.  We all tend to like different songs, have different opinions on the politics of the Contest and on who is going to win. These are often expressed “passionately”.  Hurt can be felt, and vulnerability is experienced when someone slags off your favourite song. Hopefully, this can be in a fairly safe environment and act as an area for building resilience.  Similar feelings can occur if your favourite song is dumped out in Semi Final One for the fifth year in a row, as I should know. At least that won’t happen this year with Hera Björk…

These differences of opinion can also lead to developing the ability to coexist in harmony with people who think wildly differently from you, an attribute that can really bring an overall sense of well-being.

Self-Growth and Awareness Through Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest fits into so many models of psychological well-being.  A sense of purpose and meaning as life is directed, often from December or January onwards, towards the contest.  Positive relationships with others formed through the contest. Autonomy to enjoy what you enjoy about the contest and resist societal pressures.  Even the challenges many have faced this year as they find their love of the contest clashing with deeply held beliefs and values as to who should be eligible to take part can be seen as an, often very unpleasant, learning experience that can lead to self-growth and awareness.

Further Reading

  1. ESC Insight | What Is Post Eurovision Depression and How To Address It
  2. The Emerging Science of Awe and Its Benefits | Psychology Today
  3. Sarte Vs Camus – The Boxer And The Goalkeeper – Andy Martin P229
  4. Carol Ryff’s Model of Psychological Well-being – Living Meanings

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