There are many ways to relieve stress and improve our overall health: exercise, meditation, deep breathing techniques such as breathwork and countless others have proven beneficial. Another great way to feel better is with music.
What is Music Therapy?
In its simplest terms, music therapy is using music to treat various physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive needs of a group or individual. Treatments can include listening to music, playing an instrument, drumming or writing songs.
Benefits of Music Therapy
There are many health benefits of music therapy:
A recent study found that listening to music before a standardized stress test had a direct impact on the nervous system, reducing stress levels along with a faster recovery rate.
A study published by the International Journal of Ageing and Human Development found that music training improved the depressive mood symptoms in the elderly.
Studies indicate that music is able to relieve pain and depression symptoms.
Improve communication and self-expression skills
Music allows a person to express themselves in ways they may not be able to or feel comfortable articulating. Writing music or poetry especially can be very liberating.
Music and schizophrenia
Studies are still ongoing, but preliminary results find that music therapy (in addition to standard care) “improves the global state, mental state, social functioning, and quality of life of people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like disorders.”
Music with a strong beat can increase brainwaves, while slower beats cause the brainwaves to decrease. Faster beats are often used to increase adrenaline and alertness, while slower beats initiate hypnotic or meditative states of mind.
Music Therapy Techniques
As mentioned previously, there are several ways to benefit from music therapy. Here are each in detail:
Drumming is often performed in groups. No musical experience is necessary, as participants drum together with or without music. Drumming is helpful for those who may have difficulty in social situations that require interacting with others.
Songwriting is a great way to deal with (and express) certain emotions without “talking” about those feelings. A person can simply write the lyrics, or they can create the corresponding music as well.
While some illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia and cancer may affect a person’s ability to speak, some of those afflicted are still able to sing. In addition to being a way to relieve stress, singing is used as a form of speech therapy.
Moving to music
Similar to dancing, moving to music helps a person feel a mental and spiritual connection to the melodies, as well as a way to relieve stress.
Music has many amazing health benefits. While taking medication is the most common type of treatment for various ailments, music can be a great addition to any health care plan. Give musical therapy a try. Your body just might thank you.