We are going through very tough times! And so, in the last weeks, we have talked a lot about the role of music within the pandemic. As a result, scientists and doctors have decided to investigate how music helps us cope with COVID-19
— May 12th, 2020
Today, we want to share with you an article published in Northwestern Medicine. Here, Jessica Pouranfar, a music therapist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, talks about the power of music in times of crisis.
What is the power of music to help us cope?
For musicians and performers, this is the perfect opportunity for them to practice, share their music on social media, and use it as a means to connect with the world outside. The good news is, you do not have to be musically inclined to reap the benefits of music! Aside from playing a musical instrument, music listening in itself releases endorphins in your system. When listening to music that you enjoy, dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical, and serotonin are released in your brain, giving you a sense of pleasure and boosting your mood. Music is a great motivator, and music with a steady beat will make you want to move due to a psychological phenomenon called entrainment. As a result, many people listen to music when exercising and dancing.
How can music help relieve stress?
Along with dopamine and serotonin that is released when listening to music, oxytocin is a hormone released while singing, which can alleviate stress and anxiety. Studies have found that singing decreases feelings of depression and loneliness. You don’t have to be a great singer to sing! Also, any active engagement in music can help relieve stress, such as playing an instrument or moving/dancing to music.
Is there a specific type of music you should use for meditation, stress relief?
For meditation, it is recommended to use music without lyrics and something with a slow tempo. Music can lower blood pressure and reduce your respiration rate when used intentionally, so be sure to listen to something that is soft, slow, and pleasant to your ears.
If you are experiencing stress or anxiety, start by listening to music with a faster tempo and louder volume to match your state and gradually diminish the speed and volume of your song selections as you continue to listen.
It is helpful to create a playlist for yourself that you can use when you are under stress so that you’re not having to shuffle through and think too much but rather push ‘play’ and breathe! Be careful not to use music that is tied with a lousy memory as this can trigger an adverse reaction and has the power to make you feel worse.
What tips do you have for an optimal experience?
It is essential to set up your atmosphere when using music for an optimal experience. In other words, dim the lights, make sure the temperature is just right, turn off your phone, get into a comfortable position, and minimize all distractions to use music mindfully and purposefully. You can also add other sensory stimuli to your music listening experiences such as candles, scented lotion, essential oils, or a heated blanket. Be sure to listen to music that satisfies your preference; if you listen to Mozart and you don’t like classical music, it won’t help you. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to music selection and no particular genre that works the best, so listen to what you enjoy! 15-20 minutes a day is all you need to listen, relax, and reset.
What is the difference between Music Therapy and using music therapeutically?
It is important to note that music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program (American Music Therapy Association). Research shows that live music works best when working on specific needs. Board-Certified Music Therapists (MT-BC) use music very intentionally in live sessions using specific techniques and interventions geared toward each individual’s goals of care. Music can be very therapeutic and a powerful tool to use at home and on your own, know it’s not the same thing as experiencing music therapy.
To read the original article written by Kim Waterman, click here