4
Dec
2016

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours” – Elton John.

Do you love music? Do you find that at times it helps you feel calmer or happier in yourself? This blog explores the healing power of music, which is well established throughout the world. Music can give us comfort during times of stress and grief, and acts as a link to our deepest emotions[1]. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies – and not just quiet music, as many finding that rock or even heavy metal music gives them a sense of relaxation!

Music helps with mindfulness or being full present in the moment, absorbing our attention and taking us away from ourselves during stressful times. This means it can help with meditation, and preventing the mind from focusing on negative thoughts and feelings. It also affects our physiological functions i.e. slowing our pulse and heart rate down, lowering blood pressure and decreasing levels of stress hormones. Music doesn’t just help with winding down – dancing, singing and playing music can help us let off steam, giving us a great sense of happiness with the release of natural endorphins and dopamine in the brain. Musical preference varies between individuals, so only you can decide what you like and what is suitable for each mood[2].

When people feel stressed, there is a tendency to avoid taking time out of the day to relax and actively listen to music. If you have a busy schedule that you simply cannot escape, try to listen to music to and from work, or when you’re walking the dog, or working out at the gym. If you’re catching public transport, you can put your headphones in, close your eyes and focus on the music. By allowing yourself to be in the moment listening to music, away from your troubling thoughts, you will be reducing stress and therefor increasing both calmness and productivity[3]. Singing (or shouting) along can also be a great release of tension, and karaoke is very enjoyable for some extroverts![4] Calming music before bedtime promotes peace and relaxation and helps to induce sleep[5].

Music has been used throughout history to treat different illnesses. As mentioned earlier, music can help people with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Music as well as everyday creative activities may also lead to an “upward spiral” of increased well-being and creativity in young adults[6]. These activities include songwriting, creative writing (poetry, short fiction), knitting and crochet, making new recipes, painting, drawing, graphic and digital design and performing music[7]. Scientific studies have recently attempted to measure the potential benefits of music on people suffering from anxiety, as well as in those with a disability or those with chronic illness. They have found:

  • The form and structure of music can bring on a sense of calmness to children who are distressed, or those with a disability. It also encourages communication and therefore improves quality of life[8].
  • Listening to music on headphones can reduce stress and anxiety in hospital patients before and after surgery by taking away their focus on distressing sensations[9]
  • Listening and playing music can improve mood and a persons productivity in everyday life.
  • Certain genres of music can help the mind slow down during meditation and preparing for sleep as it initiates a relaxation response. Gentle music with familier melodies are often comforting.[10]
  • Sounds of nature including rain and the ocean waves can also bring on a sense of calm, slowing down the mind and release stressful thoughts.

Take some time to reflect on these ideas, and how you can bring more of the healing nature of music in your life. Develop play lists of some of your favourite music, enjoy them and tap into their benefits.

Thank you again to Alex for helping with this blog. He is a musician, and so very much understands how we can express our emotions with music and how we can be soothed by it.

References:

The Power of Music to Reduce Stress. Jane Collingwood. Last Modified 2016. http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/.

How to Create a Stress Reducing Playlist. Jenni Rock. Last Modified 2016. https://www.anxiety.org/music-therapy-stress-reducing-playlist.

Create Activities Can Boost Well-Being. Janice Wood. Last Modified 2016. http://psychcentral.com/news/2016/11/27/creative-activities-boost-wellbeing/113040.html.

[1] The Power of Music to Reduce Stress, Jane Collingwood, Last Modified 2016, http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Create Activities Can Boost Well-Being, Janice Wood, Last Modified 2016, http://psychcentral.com/news/2016/11/27/creative-activities-boost-wellbeing/113040.html.

[7] Create Activities Can Boost Well-Being, Janice Wood, Last Modified 2016, http://psychcentral.com/news/2016/11/27/creative-activities-boost-wellbeing/113040.html.

[8] The Power of Music to Reduce Stress, Jane Collingwood, Last Modified 2016, http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

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