Guest Blog by Anita Dods
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Did you know that music has a profound effect on your psyche and body? Music in itself is a language that can be used to help the healing process when it comes to improving overall mental health. These days there are many different health care professionals who are using music as a therapeutic tool to help lift the mental health of patients who are suffering with cancer, ADD, pain, depression, and other ailments. Studies have shown that music can affect the body and mind in powerful ways. The following is a guide to music therapy and how you can improve your mental health by changing your music listening habits.
What Is The Effectiveness Of Music Therapy
Brain Waves – Research has shown that music which features a strong and constant beat can actually stimulate brainwaves to become in sync with the beat that’s playing. For example, it’s been shown that faster beats are capable of bringing the mind into a more alert state. This includes more precise thinking and sharper concentration. Slower beats however have the ability to promote a calmer, meditative state which is used for relaxation. Additional research has shown that these changes in overall brainwave activity can also help the brain to shift speeds at an easier rate for quicker reflexes and decision making even after you’ve stopped listening to it.
Heart Rate and Breathing – As brainwaves change so does other bodily functions. Music can also affect the way the autonomic nervous system functions. This means that your heart rate and breathing is affected in positive ways as well. Slower beats and songs can help to lower your heart rate and breathing to activate a relaxation response. This is why music has the potential to help counteract against chronic stress, promoting overall health and wellbeing.
State Of Mind – Music can also help with anxiety and depression as it has the ability to promote a positive state of mind. This can help to improve creativity, optimism, and other positive thinking attributes. Music can help to prevent an overall stress response from taking over your body.
Benefits Of Using Music As A Therapeutic Tool
Music can offer a number of benefits when used for improving mental health. Some of the benefits of music therapy include, but isn’t limited to:
- Lowering Blood Pressure – With the ability to enhance a body’s relaxed state, music can help to lower high blood pressure. With the lowering of blood pressure, the risk of heart attack and stroke will also reduce. This will lead to a much healthier life.
- Increased Immunity – When you feel well, you also start to make lifestyle changes which affect your overall health like changing your diet and exercising more. These new-found changes that were brought on by listening to certain music can help to increase your overall immunity. This means you are less likely to get sick.
- Ease Tension – Through relaxation of the body, you will have the ability to ease some of the tension you may be experiencing in your life. Tension can cause tight muscles, headaches, and other body aches which can be affecting your life. The slower paced music you listen to, the more your tension and other symptoms will ease.
- Promotes Stress Management – Stress is a major problem when it comes to mental and physical health. Stress can make you sick when exposed to high levels. When listening to music, however, research has shown that stress levels can decrease. This can help to improve your overall thinking ability and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed with things in your everyday life.
Tips On How To Improve Your Mood By Changing Your Music
Music as a great way of changing your mood and mental health when used in a certain way. By listening to certain music at specific times you can easily change what you think and feel, the following are some tips to change your music listening habits so you can improve your overall mood.
Music To Calm Your Nerves – If you find you need help to calm your nerves when you feel highly strung or anxious, it’s important to find music which will calm your breathing and heart rate. Select songs which are slow and where the beat isn’t complicated like with many medium to fast songs. A steady beat and a smoother style of music such as classical or ballads can help to reduce your anxiety and stress
Music To Make You Feel Happy And Inspired – For those who are feeling a little depressed, the rock and pop genres are the best options. Songs with up-beat tempos and lyrics that suggest having a great time are perfect for making you happy and lifting your spirits. Start off with medium beat songs to match your mood before playing faster, up beat songs. Also avoid songs which are in the minor key or that are unfamiliar to you. Songs which are in the minor key tend to evoke sad and emotional responses. Stick to songs in the major key.
Music To Help Overcome Anger – Anger is a very complicated emotion. You may think to combat anger you need to play soft music; however, this isn’t true. The key to overcoming your anger is by playing music that features angry lyrics. Listening to angry lyrics while you’re angry can help make you feel as if you’re understood and that you’re not alone with your feelings. Singing along with this lyric type can also help you express your anger vocally without having to take it out on someone. This is great for those who may have had a hard day at work or who may have relationship problems.
Music For Motivation – When looking for music to motivate you, it’s best to play songs that are upbeat and which feature a consistent tempo. This helps to regulate the body’s heartbeat and breathing. Pop/rock songs which feature high energy tunes can help to get you motived to exercise or complete a task. It will also lift energy levels, improve endurance, and keep you in a rhythmic mood.
Music For Break-Ups – No one likes to be in a broken relationship. When a break-up occurs it’s important to avoid listening to romantic music. Music which sounds romantic or has romantic lyrics can really damper your efforts to get over your break-up. Instead listen to music which has lyrics where you overcome break-ups or relationship problems. The music should be up-beat, and shouldn’t be in the minor key. Music which promotes a ‘stuff you’ or ‘moving on’ attitude can also help to get you over your breakup in a much easier way.
Music To Be Creative – When you want to be creative, many people think you need to turn the music up as loud as possible while completing tasks. This isn’t true however, in fact the best music you can listen to, to enhance your creativity, is music which is at a moderate noise level. Music which is at a moderate level allows for you to think clearer and can inspire you through the lyrics, singer, or the music itself. So if you’re struggling with something and need more creativity, place some music on so you can look at your project in a new light.
Tips To Creating A New Playlist
When it comes to updating your iPod music, it’s important to update the music to match the mood you’re in. The following are some tips you can use to help prepare and organize your iPod accordingly:
- Divide your playlist into selected categories. For example, one playlist for boring, motivating, slow, upbeat, or angry. You’ll find that if you have a mixture of all you’ll feel more emotional throughout the day.
- After a break up place any romantic songs into a do not play folder. After a break up, romantic songs shouldn’t be played for a few weeks until you’re over the break up as it can delay your recovery time.
- Make sure all music that you place onto your iPod is music that you generally like and love to listen to constantly. Music that you don’t’ enjoy won’t help you improve your overall mood and mental health.
- Make a playlist for all the songs that you associate with funny, positive, or achievement-orientated events which help to enhance your mood.
- Don’t be afraid to place your iPod on shuffle from time to time. There are times when no style of music is satisfactory, so in times like this it’s ok to play your music on shuffle.
Music is a power therapeutic tool which shouldn’t be disregarded when you want to improve your overall mental health. By taking the initiative and changing your music listening habits, you will definitely see some positive results on how you can handle yourself and the world around you in a brand new light. Remember to always listen to music that you like as it can make you feel a little annoyed if you don’t like a certain song. So have you changed your music listening habits? What music do you like listening to now?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anita Dods is a trained psychologist and writer who specialises in helping people get through tough times in their life through her writing. Anita has many years of experience writing about depression, relationship problems, and anxiety, and is passionate about what she does and how she can help those in need of professional counselling or guidance in their life. She is currently working and writing for The Psychology Space counselling and psychologists service.