MUSIC FOR HEALTH
Music is very powerful and affects the way we think, feel and act. The rhythm can affect our bodies so that our heart rate and respirations follow that same pulse. Music can relax or energise, and certain pieces of music can affect us in deeply personal ways.
Music can greatly affect our mood, so we need to choose what we listen to wisely. When we feel low, it can be tempting to play music that fits with how we feel, which may make us feel worse. It can be much more helpful to choose music that is close to how we feel now, but just slightly above it, for instance a little faster or slightly more upbeat, or music that starts slow and sad, but changes and influences our mood in the same way.
Sometimes you can put the music on in the background whilst you carry on with your daily activities. It is good to sing or hum along, or even dance! You may prefer to do that alone, although it can be more fun with others.
Make play lists on your
mobile phone or music player according to your mood, starting with music that fits with your
mood, then, for example, gradually becoming lighter and faster if you feel sad,
or calming if you feel tense. You can create a play list for each emotion
and name them accordingly e.g. calm, inspire, or uplift.
Put some time aside to sit or lie down and be with the music, so that you can give it your full focus of attention. Ask others not to distract you, turn off your phone and do whatever else you need to do to reduce distractions. Choose a piece of instrumental music as you might otherwise focus on the words.
Find somewhere comfortable and give it your total focus, with your full attention on the music. Close your eyes as you listen.
Singing or humming can be a very effective way to express yourself. Again choose the music wisely. Watch out for the song lyrics too as they can be very relevant.
Dancing or moving.
When we allow ourselves to move our bodies with the music, it can strengthen the
power of the music to affect us. Any form of exercise is likely to be
beneficial. In depression, physical activity has a very powerful anti-depressant
effect. It is motivating and energising. When we feel tense, due to
stress, anxiety or anger, then physical activity uses the energy that the
adrenaline response has created, thereby having a calming effect.
Playing an instrument,
however badly, can help relieve stress, improve concentration, give you a sense
of achievement and enjoyment, build confidence, improve your ability to think
rationally, and has the benefits of including physical activity. If you don't
have an instrument at home, maybe it can just be banging on pans or cushions
with wooden spoons.
Taking up and learning to
play a musical instrument may give you a focus, a sense of purpose, a goal, a
sense of achievement and enjoyment, self-confidence and all the benefits
Playing music with
others will add to the sense of fun and enjoyment and give you a sense of
being close to others. That's particularly important if you normally isolate
yourself from others. Music can be a great and less threatening way to get
together with others who have similar interests, and any conversation is likely
to be about the music and the activity. If you don't already play an instrument,
you could always join in with a community drumming group or choir in your area.
There are various online music maker tools that will enable you to create or compose your own music or sounds.
However you choose to use
music, enjoy it, and notice how it affects you. If it doesn't have the desired
effect, then just choose a different piece of music, or a different musical
Self Help BooksMusic for Health: How Understanding the Power of Music Can Improve Your Quality of Life
Music Medicine: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound
Books for professionals - see Amazon box below