- Music’s form and structure can bring order and security to disabled and distressed children. It encourages coordination and communication, so improves their quality of life.
- Listening to music on headphones reduces stress and anxiety in hospital patients before and after surgery.
- Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
- Listening to music can relieve depression and increase self-esteem ratings in elderly people.
- Making music can reduce burnout and improve mood among nursing students.
- Music therapy significantly reduces emotional distress and boosts quality of life among adult cancer patients.
You can review some of the more recent research on how music helps to relieve stress here.
Certain music is appropriate for meditation as it can help the mind slow down and initiate the relaxation response. However, not all peaceful or “New Age” music works for everyone. Music with no structure can be irritating or even unsettling. Gentle music with a familiar melody more often is comforting. But search around to find what produces a sense of calm, familiarity, and centeredness for you as an individual.
The sounds of nature often are incorporated into CDs made specifically for relaxation. For example, the sound of water can be soothing for some people. It can help conjure up calming images such as lying beside a mountain stream on a warm spring day. Birdsong may also be of use as an aid to help your mind slow down and release stressful thoughts.
Because music has the potential to influence us both psychologically and physiologically, it is an important area of therapy for stress management. Music therapy can make use of biofeedback, guided imagery, and other established techniques to play an important role in the treatment of people with stress-related disorders. But due to the dramatic effects music can have, a trained and knowledgeable music therapist always is required.
When used in combination with biofeedback techniques, music can reduce tension and facilitate the relaxation response. It may be more compatible with relaxation than verbal stimuli, which may be distracting — music is processed mainly in nonverbal areas of the brain.
Music may help people to identify and express the feelings associated with their stress. In a music therapy session, the client can express these emotions, providing an important cathartic release.
Producing music in an improvisational way, and discussing pieces of music and lyrics in a group, can also help us become more aware of our emotional reactions and share them constructively with the group.
Thinking More Clearly
Finally, listening to music can help the brain by improving learning and memory skills, always useful when we’re under stress. This has come to be known as “The Mozart Effect.” Experiments carried out by scientists at the University of California at Irvine found that students’ test scores improved after listening to a recording of Mozart, compared with either a relaxation tape or silence. This may be because the processing of music shares some of the same pathways in the brain as memory.
Learn more: Soothe Your Stress Away with Music
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