Super stressed? Turn on some tunes, kick back, and relax. Music has magical properties and is guaranteed to soothe your soul and ease your stress. All you have to do is close your eyes, listen, and let the music take over.
Music as Therapy
Music therapy is an established healthcare profession, but its roots can be traced far back in history. There is a timeless relationship between human wellbeing and the harmonies and rhythms of various cultures and traditions. In ancient Greek culture, music was believed to heal both body and soul. Native American healing rituals incorporated singing and chanting. During World War II, the U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals applied music in the treatment of soldiers suffering from shell shock (to combat stress reaction). Not long after that, the world’s first music therapy degree program was born. Today, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) oversees the development of therapeutic applications of music and monitors educational and training standards for music therapists.
How it Works
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You don’t need to participate in formal music therapy to benefit from the healing powers of music. Anyone can benefit from this simple tool. Research indicates that music can result in a physiological and emotional shift.
- Music alters brain waves. Music with a strong beat can actually stimulate brain waves to resonate with the beat—a slower beat will promote a sense of calm, whereas a faster beat can promote concentration and increase energy. Amazingly, the effects of the music linger even after you’ve stopped listening.
- Music triggers a relaxation response. By altering the brain waves, music also slows breathing and heart rate, resulting in a relaxation response.
- Music has profound physiological effects. Music has been shown to reduce blood pressure, boost immunity, and ease muscle tension. As such, it is a powerful tool for maintaining health.
- Music improves our outlook. Music has been shown to boost creativity and optimism and keep depression and stress at bay.
If you’re feeling stressed, try treating yourself to your own little session of music therapy:
- Put on some relaxing music and lie down in a comfortable position.
- Choose music with a slow, repetitive rhythm.
- As you allow the music to wash over you, focus on your breathing, allowing it to slow and deepen.
- Concentrate on the silence between the notes, rather than analyzing the music.