We all know the feeling. A favorite oldie comes on the radio and suddenly you’re transported back to one of the happiest times of your life. Or you find yourself feeling crabby after a long hard day when a particularly catchy tune gets you bopping in your living room.
Music seems to have a direct line not only to our hearts and souls but to our minds as well. But the psychological benefits of music go far beyond lifting you up on a blue day or giving a soundtrack to your heartbreak.
Music as Therapy
As enlightened as we seem to think we are as a society, there’s still a significant taboo surrounding mental health. Far too many people still fear being stigmatized if they turn for help for their depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges. If you are currently struggling with your mental health, reach out to BetterHelp’s licensed professionals today and get the support you deserve.
But the reality is that mental healthcare today isn’t what you see in the movies or hear about in the horror stories of yesteryear. Every day, therapists are developing innovative strategies to help patients discover the happy, peaceful, and fulfilling lives they deserve.
And, increasingly, music is playing an important role in that process. Science continues to prove what we’ve always already known: that music is a powerful force in shaping one’s mood.
That’s why music therapy is being used now more than ever, and with ever greater success, to treat patients not only with psychiatric disorders, but also those with dementia, social isolation, certain learning disabilities, and even those battling substance abuse.
And the therapeutic effects aren’t just in listening to music. Some patients benefit most from making their own music, whether that means singing, playing an instrument, or songwriting. Even the simple act of tapping out a beat or moving in rhythm can help relieve anxiety and improve focus.
Soothing music is also perfect for meditation, helping you release your worries and stresses and quiet your mind in ways you might not be able to achieve if you were meditating in silence only. Listening to music has even been shown to reduce the physical pain and anxiety of patients recovering from surgery!
Music as Teacher
There’s no question that music can be incredibly therapeutic. But that’s not all. Music is also being shown to facilitate learning, particularly in young children.
Studies show, for instance, that when young children learn to play an instrument, their brains are physiologically changed. When children study music, their neural processes are amped up and optimized in ways that, the research suggests, continue to benefit the little maestros well into the college years, if not beyond.
Kids aren’t the only ones who can benefit cognitively from the power of music. Adults, too, seem to have more focus and, in general, to perform better on cognitively demanding tasks when music is playing in the background.
Music is more than just a fun pastime or a pleasant diversion. It’s not just a heart song, but it’s also a mind song. Research is increasingly proving what so many of us have known all along: that music not only makes us feel better, but it also makes us think better.
Now, more than ever, music is turning out to be powerful medicine for patients suffering from an array of illnesses, from the physical and developmental to the psychological. Not only that, but music has been shown to support brain development in young children and to improve concentration and overall cognitive performance in adults.
So the next time your favorite tune comes on the radio, crank it up! And if anyone complains or asks why just tell them you’re feeding your brain!
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