Music is good for the spirit. From the lullabies we sing to quiet fussy babies to the tunes of old played in Alzheimer’s Care communities across the Pacific Northwest, music has the power to heal, calm, inspire and energize.
Neuroscientists say music can benefit our mind, body and spirit in many ways. And much of it depends upon our personal relationship with music.
The Science of Music
Here is what research shows are a few of the most common benefits of music:
- Reduce Stress: While many of us are aware of the damage too much stress can play in our lives — high blood pressure and increased heart rate to name a few — finding quick and easy ways to manage it can be tough. Music can help. If you are having a stressful day, take 10 minutes to close your eyes and turn on some relaxing music. It can help lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. You might consider creating your own channel on your favorite music site or setting up a playlist on your smart phone or tablet.
- Promote Sleep: Sleep problems such as insomnia are increasingly common as we age. Older adults who may already take a variety of medications for chronic health conditions may be reluctant to add a sleep aid to their list. This is another place where music can help. Listening to quiet, soothing music at bedtime can help you drift off to sleep.
- Manage Pain: If you’ve been to the dentist in recent years, you may have been offered head phones to wear during your visit. It’s for more than just drowning out the dreaded dental equipment noises. Music can help you re-direct your thoughts and manage pain. It is commonly used in a variety of health care settings from hospital maternity departments to cancer treatment programs.
- Increase Activity Level: Professional athletes are often photographed wearing headphones or ear buds. It’s because they know that playing music can inspire you to work out harder and longer. Music can also help you warm up or wind down from your workout.
- Enhance the Immune System: If you are looking to boost your immune system, researchers at Boston’s Mass General Hospital say music can help. They found that listening to music reduces serum cortisol in the blood. Lower levels of it help improve the immune system, the body’s metabolism and energy levels.
Music Apps to Explore
If you are looking for a way to make it easier to incorporate music in to your everyday life, there are a variety of apps to consider. Here are a few that earn high marks from experts:
- Apple Music – available for Apple and Android devices
- Spottily – works with Apple, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry
- Amazon Music with Prime – compatible with Apple and Android devices
- Pandora – an option for Apple, Android and Windows Phone users
- heart Radio – works on Apple, Android and Windows Phone devices
- Songs – for Apple, Android and Windows Phone
If you’d like some ideas for setting up play lists based on mood, this fun site can help. Mood Fuse allows you to enter a “Mood” and “Genre” and receive a list of songs that match both.
Whatever method you choose, stick with it! The more you make music a part of your everyday life, the more benefits you will receive.