Feeling stressed is awful. You can have a terrible day at the office, get stuck in the traffic, have difficult children, a fight with your partner, burn the chicken, find your shoe eaten by the dog and much more. Stress, as we get older, more and more becomes a huge issue. A day can start off well but just a little bit of stress can trigger off emotions that make us feel awful.
The answer lies in music. It does not lie in taking medication or having a drink. Music has a very special link to our emotions, to sadness and anger, and can be the most important stress management tool.
Classical music for example, is fairly slow and quiet. By listening to it our minds and bodies slow down too. They relax with the music and our pulse and heart rate slows down, our blood pressure goes lower and the levels of our stress hormones decrease.
What does music actually do to our brains?
It is quite hard to answer this question but music just makes us feel good. It can act as a distraction and instead of thinking of our woes we can be fully absorbed by the tunes and the notes. Music can also be a great aid to meditation as it brings us in and helps us to focus.
Music can also help us explore our emotions, a particularly happy song may make us feel a certain way, and a sad song may bring out our tears.
The music you like may be very different to the music your partner likes. Music is personal. Tonight I am going to listen to Jazz, you may prefer the idea of choral. Either way, it is absolutely fine but try out different kinds of music and select the most calming for you.
Should we ever avoid music?
Sometimes people in a very emotional phase may choose to avoid music. It may be too hard to listen to a certain song and memories of something sad may come flooding back. Sometime you might feel that music is wasting your time and you should be doing something productive. Know that you can work while you listen to music, you may find you get even more done. Also if you listen to music you get less stressed which inevitably increases your productivity.
Where should I listen to music?
Get the CD’s going in your car. Change your radio station from a news station to a music station. Put in earphones when you walk the dogs by using an iPod or your smart phone. Put the stereo on when you are in the bath or cooking in the kitchen. Sing along with the music, hum, tap your feet, dance in the kitchen. We highly recommend dancing in the kitchen.
For hundreds of years music has been used to treat illness. Alternate health care practitioners use music to restore harmony between body and mind. Think of singing bowls from India that are often used in massage or meditation. And think of chants, especially old hippie groups that dance around fires as they chant. Music has meaning, a certain spirituality that is about inner peace, it is about bringing people together and about healing.
Some benefits of music:
- Can bring order and security to people who are disabled and distressed
- Music encourages coordination and communication in daily life
- Music reduces stress and anxiety in hospital patients, through earphones
- Music can lift the symptoms of depression
- Music can increase your self esteem
- It can help you deal with pain and aches
- Music can put you in a good mood
- It can give you energy
- Music therapy reduces emotional distress and boosts quality of life
Music therapy is now a highly acknowledged therapy in psychology circles. Music therapy can include listening to music, drawing or talking while there is music playing, it can be banging on a music instrument, or meditating to music. Remember music slows down the mind and initiates the relaxation process. Background music can encourage people to talk. The sound of running water in a musical CD is incredibly calm and has often been used in meditations.
Music is very good for creativity. Pregnant mothers are encouraged to play music to their babies in the womb and to sing to their babies in the womb. Newborns are often happier and more peaceful after birth if the same music is played to them. They recognize the music. And music should be an integral part of any child’s learning and education. Children should be encouraged to bang drums, strum the guitar, shake the tambourine and tap the triangle, and also to sing out loud and to dance along.
Nobody has to be talented to enjoy music. It is there for everyone to be enjoyed.