It has been called medicine for the soul. It moves us, motivates us and soothes us. It gives us pleasure and helps alleviate pain. It is powerful and highly personal. For many, it is even tied in to their very sense of identity. Its appeal is universal; transcending borders, languages and cultures. It is woven into the fabric of our being and the essence of our memories. Using music for mental health (especially easy listening music) is a time-tested recipe for self-healing and soothing.
While music has always been a hobby, an art and a form of pleasurable activity, it has also become a popular form of alternative treatment. There has been a correlation found between music and mental health, with music offering a range of positive effects on emotional and physical health. In recent years, music therapy is becoming more widespread.
What are the benefits of easy listening music on mental health?
Music is known to improve mental health through the following actions:
- Alleviating anxiety and reducing stress
- Regulating negative emotions
- Helping to manage challenging behavior
- Boosting mood and energy levels
- Improving motivation
How is easy listening music related to mental health?
Easy listening music or soothing soft music has such a deep impact on mental health that it has given rise to its own form of therapy known appropriately as music therapy. Music is used actively and thoughtfully to help people support their health and overall sense of being. Its key advantage is the universal appeal and that it can be used for people of all ages to help augment physical and mental health.
You don’t need any form of musical experience or expertise to avail the benefits of this therapy. Every session is customized to your taste and health goals. Musical therapists are trained and qualified to help people of all ages and gender deal with a plethora of health concerns.
All registered music therapists are highly qualified individuals. In addition to being skilled musicians, they have undergone extensive training and understand the nuances of how musical experiences can dramatically affect your actions, feelings, thoughts and behavior. It is this unique combination of therapy training and music ability that allows them to deliver the unique musical experiences that can help you achieve your health goals.
What other benefits are there to using music for mental health?
Music is beneficial for mental health and can improve mental functioning and cognition in the following ways:
- It helps with development of the brain, especially in the case of children
- It augments learning abilities as it involves both hemispheres of the brain
- It supports verbal and non-verbal form of communication
- Enhances social behavior and interaction
- Imbues positivity to help deal with new situations
- Boosts memory and attention span
- Has a major impact on higher brain functions such as self-awareness, inhibition, motivation and emotional regulation
Most of these beneficial effects are most prominent in babies and children. In fact, babies as young as five months are known to respond better to music than normal speech; to melody more than the lyrics. The sounds and varying pitches help babies understand the tone of all that is said and react better.
Does easy listening music provide any physical benefits?
Music goes beyond mental health benefits to provide physical relief as well as improvements in physical functioning. It is believed to affect an individual physically through the following mechanisms:
- Improving balance
- Promoting higher quality sleep
- Improved motor function
- Regulate heart and breathing rate thereby maintaining blood pressure
- Better physical independence
Music is known to benefit pain management by augmenting the body’s capacity to handle pain through the following:
- Reduce pain perception
- Increase the body’s production of endogenous pain killers
- Help recover faster from injury
- Reduce inflammation
Looks like Bob Marley was on to something when he sang, “The good thing about music is when it hits, you feel no pain.”
Where is it common to see music for mental health being used?
The impact of music on mental and physical health is being increasingly recognized by the medical community with in specific and society at large. This is why you will find music being utilized as a form of therapy in several settings such as:
- Prisons and detention centers
- Old-age homes
- Community health programs
- Private clinics
- Child care centers
- Disability facilities
Who would benefit the most from therapeutic listening music?
The best thing about music is its universal appeal which makes it easy for music to support people of all age groups and afflicted by a wide number of health conditions. Music is an alternative form of treatment for those experiencing mental, physical, social or emotional health concerns. Music as a form of therapy is often is being adopted for individuals suffering from a number of medical concerns that affect mood, thinking, behaviour, communication and movement including but not limited to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders
- Stroke or brain injury
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Physical disabilities
- Bipolar disorder
- Terminal illnesses
- Personality disorders
Can therapeutic listening music be unhealthy?
It might surprise you to know that therapeutic listening music may have some side effects as well. Research has highlighted how music can stir unpleasant emotions in certain individuals by worsening low moods and promoting negative thoughts. It is therefore vital that you understand the impact of music on your mental health.
Be careful how you use music when dealing with negative feelings or indications of mental health concerns. If you find that music does any of the following then take a step back and reconsider music:
- Extends negative thinking
- Worsens low mood
- Ignites feelings of anger
- Increases a sense of helplessness or overwhelms you
Consider listening to uplifting music in such cases rather than low-key songs that amplify your current feelings. If you continue to struggle with a low mood, drop music as a form of therapy and seek support from a counsellor or psychologist. Remember when it comes to your health you should only engage in all that you find helpful, meaningful and joyful.
How can I make use of music for mental health?
There are three ways you can incorporate music as part of your alternative treatments:
Share music with loved ones
Sharing music that you enjoy with those close to you is a great way of boosting mood and feeling a sense of connection. You can also share music by going to a concert or a local gig. Alternatively, you can start a music club on the lines of a book club to connect with music and one another.
This is another great way to feel connected and improve your mental wellbeing. Do not worry too much about your musical abilities, the whole point is to enjoy the activity. Look for music groups within your community or develop your skills by joining group music classes.
Make playlists for your different moods and emotional needs
Music is a great way to regulate your feelings and emotional state. You can start by creating a playlist for a particular type of mood or emotion and then expand from there on out once you get comfortable with the idea. Ideate about how music makes you feel during certain moods and place these songs into its respective ‘mood playlist.’