If you are down in the dumps, if you can’t seem to shake the blues, what can you do?
If you’re looking for an easy way to transform your mood, then it is time to pull out your favorite CDs or music player and start listening. We all know that certain songs can strengthen our resolve, relax us to the core and bring us to tears, all at the right moments. It is one of the most common therapies used with all ages.
Studies have shown that music can bolster your mood and fend off depression. It can also improve blood flow in ways akin to statins, lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol. Studies have even shown that listening to music prior to surgery can even improve post-surgery recovery.
But exactly how can simple music have such a profound impact? According to research by Kim Innes, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, she states that music seems to “selectively activate” your neurochemical systems and brain structures that are associated with positive mood, emotion regulation, attention and memory.
In a recent Time-Magazine article, Kim referenced a 2016 study that she co-authored, which found treating yourself with music boosts your mood and lowers your stress levels. Her study compared the benefits of music to those of meditation—a practice that has been used by many cultures around the world. She found that both practices were linked to significant improvements in mood and sleep quality. “Both meditation and music listening are potentially powerful tools for improving overall health and well-being,” Innes says. If the idea of listening to music seems a lot more practical to you than meditating.
Music therapy can take on many forms other than simply listening. Everyone can take part in benefitting from guided imagery in music, singing or playing instruments. They can enhance their motor skills, release frustration and tension, as well as maintain/build their fine motor skills by enjoying music. Residents can even share music that strikes a chord in them and provide beneficial results to their daily living as well as broaden the horizons of fellow patients.
There have also been numerous studies which show that people with Alz or Dementia can be calmed and engaged when a caretaker or family member plays the music that they listened to when they were coming up in the world.
I bet if you are like most people, songs will make certain images pop up in your head. One song that was popular when you were in high school, or college, another that might have been your favorite one to play after a heart break..perhaps another song that brings back fond memories of a loved one.
So, pull out those CD’s, que up that Ipod, open up that music app and get those tunes going. See if they can’t spark a conversation, or at the very least, change your mood.