Music and Mental Health
You know you have done it. Maybe you’ve turned on a slow love song when you are in a romantic mood. Maybe you listen to something a bit more lively when it comes time to get your house cleaning done. We’ve probably all cried too when we hear certain songs that have special meaning to us and remind us of loved ones who might no longer be with us.
The thing is, music plays a massive role in our lives, to one extent or another. Yes, each of us will prefer different types of music, and some of us have tastes that might be even a bit eclectic. However, we all turn to music at different times for one reason or another.
The Effects of Music on the Body and Mind
You might not know this, but music can actually help reduce or manage the effects of post-operative and chronic pain. Music has a tendency to distract us and this can give us a sense of control. At the same time, it can trigger the release of endorphins that work to counteract our pain while it also relaxes us by slowing our pulse and breathing. It can reduce blood pressure, as well as the frequency, duration, and severity of headaches and migraines.
If you are dealing with stress and/or anxiety, music is known to relax and calm you and can even help you fall asleep. Music also has been shown to lower our levels of cortisol, which boosts our immune system while reducing stress.
Music therapy is a type of therapy that can be defined as music being used to help people deal with cognitive, emotional, and even physical problems, and even to help with addiction recovery in some instances. In fact, when it comes to that, there are all sorts of songs about addiction. The person in therapy can interact with music in a variety of ways including dancing, singing, or just listening. They might also be moved to either write music themselves or be induced to have discussions regarding the lyrics.
Another one of the science-backed health benefits of music is that it can help you perform when you are in situations in which you are under a lot of pressure. Think about playing basketball. You have one second to make a free throw that can tie the game and lead you to overtime and possibly a victory. If you want to ensure that you are calm and collected enough to make that shot, you should listen to some music before the game. There was a study done that showed that basketball players who had a tendency to underperform when they were under a lot of pressure in a game showed significant improvement when they listened to music that had music and lyrics that are upbeat before the game.
Music can actually improve our focus. Classical music is especially good for this. You might work in a place where you need peace and quiet to concentrate, but your annoying upstairs neighbors like to play loud, obnoxious music all day. One way to cope with this is to put your headphones on and play classical music at a volume that drowns out the music the neighbors are playing. Music that has a specific tempo, like maybe 60 beats per minute, works to increase the efficiency at which the brain works to process data. Just ensure that the music you choose doesn’t have any lyrics that can distract you from what you should be doing.
Face it. We don’t all have a “way with words.” At times, it can be quite difficult to know just which words would be ideal to express everything that we are thinking and feeling. However, music can be a fantastic alternative for that. It doesn’t even need to be anything elaborate. Maybe a simple chord on the piano with a few lyrics that you might have scribbled down in a notebook one night might be just what you need to express what you’re feeling. It is less about how it sounds and more about how it feels. Remember that it is just for you and unless you want someone else to hear it, it will stay that way.