Depressed? Stressed out? Not to worry, heal yourself with Music Therapy
Stress is the trash of modern life, we all generate it, but if you don’t dispose it off properly, it will pile up and overtake your life. Whether it’s related to an issue at work, a fight with a friend or problems with family, everyone feel stressed at some point of time. So what can be done to reduce and prevent stress? Well, when it becomes hard to find your way out of the downward spiral caused by overwhelming stress and anxiety, try tuning yourself to music. Heal yourself with music therapy.
Music has the ability to quickly lift our mood, affecting our subconscious mind where pesky negative thoughts feed on our fears and fuel the fires of stress. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our mind and body. It has a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, by slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a special power to move us and stir our emotions. Anyone who has ever wiped tears away from their eyes listening to their favourite sad song, will know how powerful simple lyrics and chords can be.
With all these benefits that music can carry, it’s no surprise that music therapy is growing in popularity. Music therapy has been used in the treatment of several illnesses. Many hospitals are employing music therapists for pain management and other treatments.
Given below are some of the diseases and illnesses with which music therapy has been associated.
Music Therapy and Stroke
The stroke patients who do not show any improvement after speech therapies, often experience positive changes after music therapy. To find out more about music therapy, Gottfried Schlaug, a neurologist from Harvard has been conducting clinical trials with stroke patients whose left side of the brain is damaged. The left side is the one responsible for speech. Through music therapy these patients were able to tap into similar areas on the right side of the brain. The right brain showed some structural and functional changes when compared before and after the therapy. Once the stroke victims learned to sing sentences, they could easily learn to speak out those sentences.
Music Therapy and Heart diseases
We all know about the effects of music on our breathing rate, heart beat and blood pressure. A study conducted by researchers at Italy’s University of Pavia confirmed the benefits of music for our cardiovascular system. Dr. Bernardi and his colleagues conducted the study on music to further expand its use in hospitals for heart patients. The study came up with the observations that music with faster beats have a stimulating effect, while slow music have more relaxing effects. The Mayo clinic in Rochester uses music to reduce tension and stress in patients, who have undergone cardiovascular surgery. This aids in faster recovery by helping the patients to relax and adopt an optimistic state of mind.
Music Therapy and Alzheimer
Music has been known to restore lost memory of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia. ‘Music stimulates the dormant areas of the brain that cannot be accessed due to degenerative disease’, says Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic function. Concetta has been carrying out research for more than 30 years to study the effect of music on the brain. She conducted a study where Dementia patients were subjected to 1 hour of music therapy 3 times a week for 10 months. Their scores on the cognitive-function test were found to improve by 50% at the end of the therapy.
Music Therapy and Autism
Autistic children have problems communicating with others which keeps them confined in their personal world. Music touches them emotionally, thereby motivating these children to interact with others and express themselves freely. Music therapy activities like singing songs and rhythm exercises improve their focus and memory.
Music Therapy and Depression
Music is a great stress reliever. In a research conducted by Hanser and Thompson, it was found that music can uplift the mood of elderly people suffering from depression. When it comes to depression, it’s better to listen to an inspiring and exhilarating music.
What type of music best reduces the stress?
Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud. Sounds of rain, thunder and nature may also be relaxing, particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz or classical. Certain music is appropriate for meditation as it can help the mind slow down and initiate the relaxation response. Classical music may be an effective way to ease into falling asleep. The key to determine what works best for you is to pay attention to how you feel-before, during and after listening, singing or playing music.
Everyone reacts to music in different ways. One individual may love heavy metal for example, while another is happy listening to Mozart. Whatever your preference is, but according to a 2011 Canadian study, published in Nature Neuroscience, plugging in to your favourite music can actually help to melt away a bad mood.
So when was the last time you really enjoyed listening to music?
It is quite possible that you might not remember the day when you had the time to close your eyes, sit back and enjoy those classics that you have always loved and adored. When people are very much stressed, there is a tendency to avoid listening to music. Perhaps it feels like a waste of time, not helping to achieve anything. But as we know, productivity increases when stress is reduced, so this is another area where you can gain vast rewards. To incorporate music into a busy life, try playing CDs in the car or put the radio on while taking bath or shower or sing aloud. It just takes a small effort to begin with.
The power of music is yet to be explored fully but there is no doubt that music has a profound effect on our body, mind and soul. So whenever you find yourself in a gloomy mood, your boss doesn’t seem to stop yelling at you or your stressful life is driving you crazy, you know what to do. Instead of venting out your fury and frustration, just grab your iPod, plug in your earphones and switch on your favorite music. Get carried away by the musical waves and you will feel relaxed and happy instantly.