Music therapy can calm nerves, reduce anxiety, ease pain, and provide a simple and pleasant diversion during chemotherapy or a hospital stay, so what is music therapy?
Almost everyone can feel a strong connection to some type of music. Regardless of your musical ability, most people have several songs that remind them of special times or memories. Hospitals and operating rooms have used music for decades to help relax the staff and have been linked to positive recovery outcomes.
Certified music therapists are often former or current musicians who know how to evoke specific emotions. Their knowledge and experience and familiarity with numerous genres help the patient get the exact type of music they need to get through their stressful time. Whatever your taste of music is, music therapists can combine your favorite genre with music that will help your recovery.
Several studies and clinical research show that music therapy helps in numerous ways. Music therapy can help:
- Manage pain
- Improve mood and movement of people with Parkinson's disease
- Reduce the need for medication and pain relievers during and after surgery
- Decrease nausea during chemotherapy treatments
- Help patients shorten hospital stays by participating in treatment
- Reduce anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Limit depression
- Enhance creativity and concentration
Studies show that moods improved and depression decreased for patients who listened to familiar music while performing stress reduction activates and techniques on their own and with the assistance of a music therapist. If you have tried this technique for multiple weeks in a row and do not see any improvements you may want to see a therapist or licensed professional. Music therapists can help with most mild cases of depressions but there could always be more significant issues that need to be addressed if you do not see improvements.
Music Strategy for a Blue Mood
If you're simply stuck in a blue mood, try a new approach with upbeat, energetic, and rhythmic positive songs.
Examples: It will depend on your taste but these songs could range from orchestral bands, classic rock, pop or classical music to help you find the right mood.
Listening strategy: If you have the fitness level, do gentle exercises while the music plays, perform gentle exercises and let the music move your body naturally. Keep your movements light and flowing and find a way to make new movements with the music. Always remember to breathe.
Music Strategy for Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation and troubles falling asleep is a very common reason that people get help from music therapists. Research shows that classical and new age music helps people fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep for longer periods of time, and get back to sleep more easily after waking up in the middle of the night.
Best music: Quiet, melodic pieces with a slow beat with minimal rhythmic accents.
Listening strategy: Begin shifting into low gear after dinner and make sure you skip caffeinated beverages after dinner and avoid telephone calls and TV after 9 pm. The music should be soft and quiet as you approach bedtime. Continue listening in bed with your music device and slowly fall asleep.
To Reduce Stress
Many studies have found that soothing and calming melodies can minimize anxious feelings and slow both blood pressure and heart rate even under very stressful conditions.
Best music: The best music is something that gains your attention so your daily worries and concerns gradually slip away. You will want to free your mind and distract it from the things that are currently stressful in your life and could potentially be stressful in the future.
Examples: Slow music or instrumentals are always good places to start, but it can be any genre. Anything that takes your mind away from your worries will be a good fit, but if things become too slow you can always try to choose something livelier.
Listening strategy: Sit and get into a comfortable position where you can relax without being disturbed. After listening for a few minutes mix in a relaxation exercise. You may be able to think more clearly with a brief activity that gets your blood flow going.
To Relieve Pain
The research: Physical discomforts ranging from pain following surgery to chronic aches can be eased with flowing melodies and distracting rhythms. A study from Yale University School of Medicine found that people who listened to their favorite music while awake during a surgical procedure needed a smaller dosage of medication than those who did not listen to music. Music can also bring temporary relief from both short-term and long-term pain discomforts associated with chronic medical conditions. While music on its own will not relieve all of the pain that comes from a surgery or chronic illness, it can greatly reduce it.
Best music: Gentle, soothing stress-reducing selections that give your body cues to relax. Music that has a gently flowing rhythm with a slow, steady pulse can help create a sense of relaxation, which can then ultimately alter and minimize your perception of pain.
Examples: Soft lullaby tunes are great for creating a soothing and calm atmosphere and if you're just feeling irritable, an up-tempo song may additionally distract you completely at first. You can then switch to a different genre that will keep you relaxed once you’re distracted. This can help minimize the tension in your body and gradually relax your body.
Listening strategy: Sit or lie in a comfortable position while the music plays and take at least 15 to 20 minutes to fully concentrate on the music to soak it in. When you listen to music like this it is not quite like listening to music in the background when you do household chores, you need to give it your full attention.
Music therapy continues to become more popular and is a great alternative to traditional medicine and can be a great addition to a medicinal regiment. If you’re skeptical, give it a try and consult someone to see what the potential benefits could be.