Listening to music can be a quick route to getting yourself into a better mood, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s much more to the benefits of music than just a quick boost for your outlook. Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche. In fact, there’s a growing field of healthcare known as music therapy, which uses music to heal.
Those who practice music therapy are finding a benefit in using music to help cancer patients, children with ADD, and others, and even hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring. This is not surprising, as music affects the body and mind in many powerful ways.
Therapeutic Effects of Music
The following are some of the effects of music, which help to explain the effectiveness of music therapy:
Research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state.
Also, research has found that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.
Breathing and Heart Rate
With alterations in brainwaves comes changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things.
Music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation but health.
State of Mind
Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay. The uplifting sound of music and the positive or cathartic messages that can be conveyed in the lyrics can all be routes to a new mental state as well.
Music has also been found to bring many other benefits, such as lowering blood pressure (which can also reduce the risk of stroke and other health problems over time), boost immunity, ease muscle tension, and more.
With so many benefits and such profound physical effects, it’s no surprise that so many are seeing music as an important tool to help the body in staying (or becoming) healthy.
With all these benefits that music can carry, it’s no surprise that music therapy is growing in popularity. Many hospitals are using music therapists for pain management and other uses that support their patients’ health.
Using Music on Your Own to Improve Health
While music therapy is an important discipline, you can also achieve many benefits from music on your own. (You may have already been doing this since you were a teenager, but it’s a great idea to keep incorporating music into your daily life as you age through the life cycle, as we now know.)
Music can be used in daily life for relaxation, to gain energy when feeling drained, for catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and in other ways as well. Most of us know from experience that music can dissolve the stress of a log drive, keep us motivated to exercise, and take us right back to positive experiences in our past, which can be a happiness booster and a stress reliever.