The Powerful Ways Music Helps You Cope with Stress
Even though we are working in separate places…
● Ross in his office at home- loving and ignoring his young children in equal measure
● Alistair a lone figure in our workshop – refusing to step away from his fine tuning
● Thomas orchestrating conversations between all the other members of the Edelweiss extended family over video chat
…we are all still as one; drawn together through our mutual love of music. It is the music’s universal bond binding all humans together that got us thinking – how much CAN music do in times of stress?
Studies show that music helps the depression and anxiety of patients with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.
If music helps improve their mood, self-esteem and quality of life, surely it can bring some relief to everyone in lockdown around the world? This needs more investigation.
How Music Helps to
Balance Your Hormones
Let’s start with babies. Barry Goldstein says there is no better way to see the unchecked effect music has on mood. Just watch them – put on a song they like and they light up with joy and bouncing.
In fact, studies on thousands of babies here in the UK, in France and in Finland prove that to soothe a baby we should use music rather than words: even if the music is in a foreign language and not our native tongue.
This may be due to the fact that music reduces the cortisol found in our bloodstream. This is the hormone released when we are stressed. It used to be necessary for a fight/flight response, but there aren’t many mammoths to run away from anymore – not in Cambridge at least.
Listening to music even has our body release natural chemicals into our bloodstream.
The first is dopamine – the brain’s ‘motivation molecule’. It is an integral part of the pleasure-reward system. It is the same hormone that pleases us when we eat chocolate or achieve something amazing.
Top tip: Want more dopamine from your music? Put your music on ‘shuffle’ so you get a surprise when your favourite track plays.
The second release is that of ‘the love hormone’, oxytocin. The same chemical released when breastfeeding, when we pat our animals and when we get a hug.
Getting a hug is impossible for many people right now. But with music, everyone can have a cuddle every day.
Our mind was made up! We may not be able to help in the hospitals, but we can keep you all smiling by providing FREE music. But what kind?
What Type of Music
Revitalises You the Most?
There have been a number of studies about which songs to have in your resilience-building toolkit. The general consensus is that you should listen to whatever you want to.
At a time when we are all having to follow guidelines, isn’t that a relief to hear!
If you’re still unsure what to choose…
Know that upbeat music is seen as particularly helpful. Songs with lyrics are friends empathising with you. And sad music can be cathartic.
But be warned. If you continuously listen to sad music to process negative emotions, particularly if you are male, it can lead to more sadness and even aggression.
Try turning to something you haven’t heard before. But be cautious! You may need to seek medical opinion if you have had a heart attack or stroke, before turning to heavy metal or hard dance music! Yes, I choked on my tea on hearing that too.
Whatever you choose to listen to, it’s usually better not to multitask and check out social media at the same time. The music will struggle to be therapeutic in that case.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of an artiste, or are looking to ‘pivot’ your business into something different in this global pandemic, try listening to your favourite tune at a moderate level. Too loud and it gets distracting, but it needs to be at a high enough volume to drown out the analytical side of your brain.
Top tip – If you listen to music hoping to feel better you are more likely to. But do focus more on the journey to happiness than the result. As we know, the more we focus on wanting something, the harder it is to come by.
How to Read Your Personality
Traits Through Music
Scientists have learnt that music preferences can physically shape your brain. Now, with a preliminary study, they have grounds to further stereotype us by looking at our music choices. They discovered these interesting facts based on a study of young adults.
- JAZZ listeners have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and easy-going.
- CLASSICAL music lovers have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and easy-going
- RAP fans have high self-esteem and are creative and gentle
- DANCE music ravers are creative and outgoing but not gentle
- BOLLYWOOD music listeners are creative and outgoing
- ROCK/HEAVY METALfans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, not outgoing, gentle and easy going
- And CHART POP fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle but are not creative or easy going.
I’m not sure about that! But I do know that music selectively effects peoples’ brains in different ways. Your journey with music is unique to you.
Mankind’s journey with music has come a long way. The oldest musical instrument ever found is a 40,000-year-old flute. How lucky we are that today we need not intricately carve a vulture bone – we can have music delivered straight to our inbox.
‘Music is a way to bypass our rational side and to get in touch with the emotional life we often keep hidden. If people are having trouble, there’s usually a way that music can help’
Alan Turry, MD, Nordoff-Robbins Centre for Music Therapy at New York University