Music is an essential part of our lives. We wake up with it, sing the tune in the shower, it accompanies us on our trips, we dance to it, live it, fall in love with music; it makes us happy. Some people even claim that it is mandatory in life and that a day without music is like a day without sun.
I moved to Shanghai during my father’s expat assignment. It was refreshing, challenging and mentally stimulating at the same time. I experienced many different cultures–first by attending a British International School and then an American middle school. Being able to meet people of various cultures and backgrounds helped me become more aware, kind and curious. It magnified the desire to explore the world. It was in China, when I first picked up, now my long companion – cello.
Music helped me stay focused and cope with various hardships in life. Music enriches one’s entire personality. It helped me get into a routine that provided me with a fresh outlook on life, and on how intertwined those two are.
After returning to Bay Area, I started teaching cello at the Academy of Arts and Music for Special Education (AMASE) and has, over time, realized the profound ways in which music helps us, especially when it comes to those with special needs. The healing effects that music has on both our body and mind are real and scientifically proven.
Listening to music is one of the few activities that encourage the full use of the brain. In addition to vibrating the eardrums, it has a positive effect on our health and well-being. Music benefits us both mentally and physically, influences our mood, our cognitive abilities, and creativity.
Singing Along to Music Strengthens Your Personality
Past experiences suggest that our choice of relaxation music helps build character. We learn new things about ourselves by being conscious of what kind of music relaxes us.
It is never a question of being able to sing. Singing is a self-imposed feedback loop that swings up and down, where the person who’s singing, continuously readjusts themselves to correct what they’re thinking and how they’re acting.
Sound can be used like medicine. We all know that feeling when the day is going badly, suddenly we hear our favorite song on the radio, turn up the volume, maybe sing along to it – and our mood improves instantaneously. There are actually no rules as to which music is particularly suitable for relaxation. It can vary significantly from person to person.
What Does It Feel Like?
The anti-stress effects of music have immediate benefits.
When we listen to a song, our breathing increases and becomes deeper. Then, the body produces more serotonin, a hormone essential for a positive outlook.
Playing background music in the workplace has also been proven to help reduce stress, and is used widely today.
This anti-stress, attention-diverting effect is also the reason that most stores play music all the time. However, the goal here is usually to divert your attention from high prices.
Music also slows the heart rate and increases body temperature. These are all signs that signify that the body is entering into a state of relaxation. Many experts claim that it is the rhythm of the music that has a calming effect on us, even if we aren’t aware of it.
How to Take Advantage of Music
Start by creating a playlist with songs that help you tune into a positive frequency. Not all music produces this effect, so it’s important to find the correct melodies and vibrations, which is closely related to the genre (which influences the rhythm) and the message (lyrics) of a melody. It should go without saying, but try to avoid depressing music for now.
During difficult times, listening to familiar songs that help us remember better times can help us respond more positively to adversity. In fact, music therapy has proven to be very effective in Alzheimer’s patients for this very reason. It has strong associations with memory and all the emotions related to a particular point in history that we associate with a specific song.
To manage stress efficiently, it is preferable to choose music that helps us counter these negative moods and emotions. Instrumental music is a good option, as it more effective in stimulating pleasant emotions and prevents us from focusing on the lyrics.
Visualize personal success stories while listening to music. In this way, we will be manufacturing new memories associated with specific songs that will become very useful resources when we need extra help to combat stress. Let your mind wander and do what it takes to make an ideal environment where you feel comfortable.
It doesn’t matter if you end up creating fantastic scenarios in your head. We all need superpowers from time to time to defeat imaginary villains that personify our troubles, and feel better about ourselves as a result.