On days that feel hard, resting mentally and physically by listening to your favorite songs can be a savior of your bad mood. The benefits of listening to music for stress relief are unquestionable. However, have you ever asked, actually, what makes music can have a calming effect on the brain that is in distress? Is that from the melodious voice of the singer, the melody of the composer’s cold hand, or even from the music genre itself? Science explains the benefits of music therapy for your stress.
The Benefits of Music Therapy for Stress Relief
Music therapy is therapy using music to overcome various social, emotional, and behavioral problems; cognitive, motor and sensory problems in all individuals of all ages. This therapy is often used by people who suffer from stress and certain diseases, but the benefits of this therapy can be felt by everyone. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is a clinical music intervention and is based on verification by someone of a professional standard who has legitimately completed a music therapy program.
How does music therapy work?
Music is processed by all areas of the brain, then music accesses and stimulates areas of the brain that may not be accessible to other modalities. Parts of the brain that can be affected by music are:
- Orbitofrontal Cortex (social behavior)
- Prefrontal Cortex (explain and solve problems)
- Anterior Cingulate Cortex (emotions and motivational based learning)
- Amygdala (social, emotional, and memory processing)
- Basal Ganglia (motor control)
- Hippocampus (learning and spatial memory)
- Auditory Cortex (hearing)
- Broca’s Area (speech production)
- Motor Cortex (voluntary movements)
- Sensory Cortex (touch and other sensations)
- Wernicke’s Area (speech comprehension)
- Angular Gyrus (complex language functions)
- Visual Cortex (vision)
- Cerebellum (coordination, balance, and motor memory)
- Brainstem (vital functions of the body and sensory input)
Also read: How to Befriend Stress? – Is It Possible?
The advantages of music therapy for health
Not only soothing, music therapy also has four main functions on the health of the human body.
1. Music for healing
According to a paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, listening to music can reduce chronic pain from various conditions, including osteoarthritis, joint problems, and rheumatoid arthritis by 21%, and depression by 25%. Music therapy is widely used to reduce postoperative pain, childbirth, and also to complement the use of anesthesia during surgery.
There are several theories about how music can positively influence pain, namely:
- Music produces effects that can distract attention
- Music can give patients a sense of control
- Music causes the body to release endorphins (pleasure hormones) to fight pain
- Slow music can relax the body by slowing down breathing and heart rate
Reducing blood pressure
Listening to music that can relax the body every morning and evening will make people who have hypertension lower their blood pressure and stay in a low position. According to research reported at a meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in New Orleans, listening to classical music or other soothing music for 30 minutes every day regularly can reduce high blood pressure.
Make the heart healthy
Music is very good for your heart. Research shows that the thing that influences is the tempo of the music, not the genre. The researchers noticed changes in the heartbeat of young children when listening to 6 different music styles. And the result is that when they listen to music with a fast tempo, their heart rate also becomes faster, and vice versa. So whether you like it or not about certain music has no effect on your heart rate. It is the tempo or speed of music that has the greatest effect on heart relaxation.
Encourages post-stroke recovery
Pop, classical, or jazz melodies can accelerate one’s recovery from a stroke. Listening to classical music can increase visual attention in patients who experience physical disorders after a stroke. Recent research also shows that listening to music not only restores a patient’s behavior, but also induces subtle neuroanatomical changes in brain recovery.
Cure chronic headaches and migraines
Music can help people with migraines and chronic headaches reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of headaches.
Helps increase body immunity
Music can help boost the immune system. Scientists explain that certain types of music can create positive and deep emotional experiences, which will lead to hormone secretion.
2. Music improves physical performance
– Physical benefits of music therapy
Music improves athletic performance
Choosing music that motivates you will make it easier for you to walk, move, dance, or other types of exercise that you enjoy. Music makes exercise feel like recreation compared to work. The ability of music to improve athletic performance includes:
- Reduce exhaustion
- Increase psychological arousal
- Improve motoric coordination
Music improves body movement and coordination
Music rhythm has an extraordinary ability to move our bodies. Music can reduce tension in the muscles, and increase body movement and coordination. Music can play an important role in developing, maintaining, and restoring physical function in the rehabilitation of people with movement disorders.
Also read: 10 BEST WAYS TO RELIEVE STRESS
3. Music helps to work more productively
Listening to upbeat music can be a great way to find some extra energy. Music can effectively eliminate tiredness and fatigue caused by monotonous work. Keep in mind that listening to too much pop music and hard rock music can make you more nervous than energized.
Music increases productivity
Many people like to listen to music while working. Based on the facts, listening to music will make you do a better job. According to a report in the Journal Neuroscience of Behavioral and Physiology, a person will recognize visual images, including letters and numbers, faster when classical or rock music accompanies.
4. Music can calm the mind
Relaxing music can help to sleep
Classical music is the most inexpensive and effective means of dealing with insomnia. Many people who suffer from insomnia find that Bach’s music can help them to sleep. Researchers suggest that 45 minutes of listening to relaxing music can make you rest at night. Relaxing music can also reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, anxiety, blood pressure, heart, and breathing. This can have a positive effect on you who often have trouble sleeping.
Music decreases stress and increases relaxation
Listening to slow music or calm classical music has been proven to reduce stress. Lots of research has shown that the effects of relaxing music can be seen in anyone, including newborn babies.
Here is how music reduces stress:
Physical relaxation. Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, and allow you to release some tension from stressful days.
Reducing negative emotions. Music, especially optimistic songs, can divert your mind from what disturbs your mind, and help you feel more optimistic and positive. The researchers found that music can reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.
Stress usually starts from feeling overwhelmed due to the amount of pressure from outside and inside someone who has been going on for a long time. When stress strikes, the body reads it as an attack or threat. To protect yourself, the body will produce various stress hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine.
This increase in stress hormones in the body makes you feel nervous because your heart rate increases, breathing becomes faster and shorter, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, anxiety is easy, it is difficult to sleep, so it is difficult to think clearly. Rapid breathing or hyperventilation can cause panic attacks.
Scientists from the University of Missouri agree that listening to music can improve the mood of those who listen to it. The study, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, revealed that mood improvements and decreased stress levels were seen after 2 weeks of regular listening to music.
Other benefits of music therapy
Benefits of music therapy for mental health
Based on research conducted by Torres et al, listening to music can help improve social functioning in people with schizophrenia and depression. Apart from improving mood (in the same way as above), music can help them express themselves more freely, making them feel more relaxed.
Based on research conducted by Errkila et al., people with depression who undergo music therapy as an additional therapy, will experience improvement in symptoms more rapidly than patients who only receive medical therapy alone.
Music is also often done as a way to calm those who will undergo surgery or other actions, so they can become more relaxed.
Benefits of music therapy for children with autism
According to the American Music Therapy Association, various research results have proven a positive relationship between music and various aspects of toddler development, such as increasing emotional expression and social interaction, increasing communication skills, reducing anxiety, increasing motor skills, learning abilities and others.
The best music for stress relief
Here is the list of songs that have helped me to relieve my stress:
1) The Climb by Miley Cyrus
2) Burn by Ellie Goulding
3) Stay Another Day by East 17 (it was written about the brother of one of East 17 members who killed himself. It’s a plea to stay another day).
4) Oldies but goodies. Rise Up, Share a Dream, Healing love by Cliff Richard. Thanks to my Dad who introduced these songs to me.
5) I’m a big fan of Linkin Park. I have loved them since I was in high school. These songs have gone to a whole new meaning after Chester’s death. Still, cannot believe he took his own life!!!
Numb, Somewhere I Belong, Heavy, In The End, Crawling
Photo from kerrang.com
6) Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
7) High by Lighthouse Family. This is one powerful song you should hear.
8) Heal The World by Michael Jackson.
9) Like This! – Smash Into Pieces. This song makes me dance.
10) Burn The House Down by AJR. OMG, this is our jam in our house. My husband, baby girl and I always sing and dance together with this one.
11) Any Disney songs are cheerful. What do you guys think? What’s on your list?
Well Folks, that’s it for today. From this article, we have learned about benefits of music therapy for stress which is a natural stress relief or antidepressant. Please let me know in the comment section down below what are your thoughts about this topic and if you have a song you love to hear to cheer you up whenever you feel blue. I would love to hear all about them.
Stay safe, happy and healthy!
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