Our Friend, Music
There are so many different styles of music out there, and I’m willing to bet that you like some sort of music. Ever wonder why you like music? Maybe because it sounds good? Or because it fits your mood? Maybe you like the lyrics? Maybe it pumps you up? Whatever the reason you make enjoy music, that is one thing that most people have in common.
Music has been around for thousands of years and is one of the most creative and engaging ways for us to feel and express emotion. You probably have a favorite song or style of music that you enjoy listening to when you are feeling down, when you are working out, or when you are driving around. Like a good friend, music is there for you.
Music may be more of a friend than you realize. Why is that you ask? Well, let me tell you a little of what I have learned about music.
You already know that music can make you feel good, but there are other potential benefits as well. Research has shown that music can have benefits for both our physical and our mental health. Music is also used as a form of therapy in both the physical and mental health fields.
I’ve had the opportunity to see the difference music can make when used therapeutically in a setting where individuals are struggling with severe mental illness. In this setting, music is used to help reduce depression, agitation, anxiety, stress and improve overall mood.
Studies have shown music to be beneficial with reducing pain and helping improve life for those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In some hospital settings, talented nurses and staff sing to patients prior to a procedure to help reduce anxiety and lift their mood.
How can you become better friends with music?
Get Pumped! Want to improve your exercise routine? Rather than listening to the sound of a treadmill or others grunting during their workout, listening to music makes that sometimes dreaded activity more enjoyable and can help with motivation. Listening to the right song can pump us up and help with our endurance and performance as well.
Sleepy time. If you’re the type of person whose thoughts begin to race as you lie your head down and/or you struggle to get to sleep, try listening to some classical music. Studies have shown this can help calm your sympathetic nervous system and your body for a more restful sleep.
Eating habits. Want help eating less? The outcome of one study showed that people who ate with dimmed lighting and soft music were more likely to eat slowly and be in tune to how much they were consuming. The results of the study showed that these individuals ate 18 percent less than those in other restaurants. I can’t count the number of times I‘ve been in a high energy restaurant with loud music, and a lot of noise, eating until I felt I was going to pop.
So the next time you put on your headphones, turn that radio up and jam out, remember that your friend music has more potential for your physical well-being and mental health than you realize.
Daniel Park is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), native to Idaho, and has worked in mental health for over 10 years. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Boise State University.