The soothing power of music is well known across mankind. Since it helps us connect to our emotions in a unique manner, it has proven itself to be an effective tool for stress management.
Benefits of Incorporating Music in our Lives
Plugging in your headphones or putting on the speakers or sitting in an auditorium can be a source of music that has a tremendously relaxing effect on both our minds and bodies, especially the slow and calm classical music. Some of its psychological benefits are:
1. Improves Cognitive Performance
Research suggests that listening to music (in the background) while primarily focusing on another task results in better cognitive performance in older adults. Choosing instrumental music rather than lyrical ones can be more helpful since the former does not trigger many thoughts or emotions and simply lets you be.
2. Helps You Eat Less
Calm and soothing music when paired with dimmed lights actually makes you more aware of your bodily sensations and thus, allows you to pick up the moment when you feel full.
3. Aids Management of Pain
One study of fibromyalgia (a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues) patients showed that those who listened to music just for an hour a day experienced significant reduction in pain as compared to those who did not. Thus music can be effective in the treatment of chronic pain.
4. Improves Sleep Patterns
Insomnia is a serious problem that can affect a person at any age. While many treatments are available in the market for it, one of the most effective ones has been listening to mellow and soft classical music. A particular study found that participants who listened to music before sleeping had significantly better sleep than those who listened to audiobook and those listened to nothing at all.
5. Kicks Up Motivation
The next time you go for a walk, start with playing slow paced music. Next, switch to a song with a slightly higher tempo. And finally knock it off the wall with a fast paced track. You’ll notice that your performance will be the fastest in case of the third song. So if you are trying to start an effective workout routine, create a playlist loaded with fast tunes that will boost your motivation and help you enjoy your exercise.
6. Improves Mood
In a study where researchers wanted to understand why people to music so often, the results outlined how music affects their arousal and mood for the better. Participants rated better mood and more self awareness as the two most important benefits of listening to music.
Another trick could be to play happy music in a way to intentionally become more happy. So the next time you want to pep up your mood, have a playlist ready of happy and quirky songs that you like!
7. Manage Depression
Music has been proven to reduce depression and anxiety in patients suffering from neurological conditions and music therapy showed no negative side effects, meaning it is a very safe and low-risk approach to treatment. Classical and meditation music offered the most benefits while heavy metal and techno were found to be the least helpful, even detrimental in certain cases.
Well these were the psychological benefits of having music by your side, now let’s look at the physiological benefits!
1. Improved respiration
2. Lower blood pressure
3. Improved cardiac output
4. Relaxed heart rate
5. Reduced muscle tension
6. Pain relief
7. Promotes recovery for heart stroke patients
8. Boosts immune system
9. Improves post partum well being
10. Promotes an anti-seizure effect
History & Current Status of Music Therapy
Well, as it turns out that even though benefits of listening to music are being studied better now, they have been understood way back in time. Music therapy was prevalent in Greek mythology, philosophy and Native American culture. In case of World War 1 and World War 2, community musicians would volunteer to play for veterans and the wounded in hospitals. Both patients and nurses were able to notice an improvement in their mood and patients noted gaining a new outlook towards their pain. The music was so well received that doctors started hiring musicians to play for the soldiers.
At the moment, music therapy is enjoyed by children, teens and adults. One of the great adaptations of the therapy has been that it is being customized to fit to an individual’s need. So while a child may like to learn a new instrument, a teen may like to write songs and an adult might simply enjoy just listening to music.