Ways Music Can Enhance Your Life
By Genevieve Smith
You might have noticed that when you listen to music, you feel better. Whether it’s a sad piece or an uptempo one, you are given an avenue to release your emotions. Oftentimes, the process of listening is combined with dance, and you get to transform the music into a piece of inspiration for the creative expression of movement and the release of adrenaline from the exercise. But did you know how therapeutic music can actually be for the human mind?
Music and Infancy
The brain may be designed to integrate music into life. One study found that 5-month-old babies reacted to happy songs, while 9-month-olds were able to recognize when a song was sad. Music communicates emotion through the speed of tempo and the choice of key used, whether it is a major key (happy instrumentation) or minor key (sad instrumentation). Findings that babies, completely new to this world, will react appropriately to tempo and key is an indicator that interpretation of music is intrinsic and not learned behavior. What does this mean for the way music affects you later on in life?
Music and Illness
Listening to music has been found to have the charming ability to boost the immune systems of patients post-surgery. It can also lower the stress-levels of pregnant women and bring down the heart rate and blood pressure of cardiac patients before surgery. Hospitalized children have been found to be happier after music therapy than regular playtime without instruments, perhaps in part because of the creativity and experimentation, coupled with the effect tempo and melody have on our moods. Music therapy has been found successful in the treatment of depression, as well as loneliness and anxiety in the elderly. The elderly and those suffering from memory loss and dementia have been discovered to benefit greatly from music in other ways; studies have found music to enhance memory through multiple avenues, including mental stimulation and the use of nostalgia. Rhythm has also been explored as an approach for retraining the brain after a stroke or due to neurological impairments such as Parkinson’s disease.
Music and Human Connection
Perhaps the strongest mood-boosting effects of music occurs when it is experienced live. Ingesting music this way provides the opportunity for social bonding over tempo and lyric. Music events hold the capacity to bring new people into your social circle, or to bond briefly in some exciting experience with someone you may always remember. Dance also contributes to the pizzazz of experiencing music live as you release adrenaline through both the exercise and the experience of expressing yourself in a room full of strangers, perhaps soon to be friends.
Next time you need a pick-me-up, turn to the healing power of music. Our minds are designed to process the melodies into emotion, and produce feelings that benefit our health. While music enhances your life when experienced solo, consider making the time to experience it live; you never know what wonderful experiences you may walk away with. Rock on.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.