Listening to a song or a music instrument does wonders in a stressful situation. Every individual has his or her own taste when it comes to music and should listen to music whichever he or she is comfortable with. Music could be a stress buster while you travel, work or relax after a hectic day at work. One could not force himself to listen to music which could be a stress by itself rather than alleviating it.
What is Music Therapy?
American Music Therapy Association defines Music Therapy as “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music intervention to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”
What is Stress?
Physiological or biological stress is our body’s response to a stressor or environmental condition. It could also explain how our body reacts to a challenge. During a stressed condition, our body’s sympathetic nervous system responds to the stressful situation on a short term. This situation cannot be maintained for a long time, hence the parasympathetic system responds to the situation and brings it to a normal condition by a process called homeostasis. When our body succumbs to the improper functioning of this mechanism, the body experiences a diseased condition of chronic stress that could affect at physical or mental level.
Different Types of Stress and the Body’s Response
There are various factors that could cause stress, namely Physical stress could be caused by something such as fear of something dangerous or life-threatening, Emotional stress - which could result over a worry of a family issue or job or something at a personal issue.
Identifying the real cause of stress could be the first step in the management of stress.
Some of the common types of stress one could encounter in a day to day life are:
Survival stress- which is often referred as fight or flight which is common to our survival from threat from any animal or people where one is afraid of them.
Internal stress- Something that bothers you often or you are caught yourself worrying about something which you can do nothing about or worrying for no reason at all.
Environmental Stress-This is stress in which our body responds to situations such as noise, crowd and also pressure from work or family.
Fatigue and Overwork-This is one of the most common stress which builds up over a period of time and could take a hard toll over your health. This could be caused by working too much or too hard at work, school, or at home. This could lead us to various psychosomatic conditions.
How Stress could harm you?
Stress could affect both your body and mind. Stress could make one tired, sick and people would have difficulty in concentration and often end up in having emotional breakdowns.
Many people feel that when they sing along or play an instrument while they listen to their favorite piece of music helps them relax and relieve their stress a lot. This method has been proven beneficial in many cases of anxiety, chronic depression, and various psychiatric ailments.
Music therapists suggest that listening to music or rhythm of a music beat has a calmative effect on human health which acts at a subconscious level. One is exposed to music therapy right from the age of the fetus inside a mother’s womb when we are influenced by the heartbeat of the mother’s heart. Music has a direct influence on the mind. This has been evident when scientists have observed changes in EEG patterns while music was used as a tool in Meditation and Relaxation. The most beneficial benefit was observed when the patients were exposed to live performances even though the music was played moderately loud or discordant.
It has been explained as whenever we hear music there has been a synchronization of right and left brain which influences our health in a beneficial manner. Many people play their own instruments or compose a music to tackle their stress to tackle day to day stress.
Methods to maximize music therapy for stress
Music Bath - Listening to the music of your choice while you lie down on a couch or on floor. It could be made more effective if you could use personal headsets which could be more beneficial in combating stress.
To obtain a more benefit of music therapy, a slow rhythmic music that might be slower than the human heartbeat could benefit a lot rather than a Hard Rock or Bollywood or Heavy Metal. A piece of music that is cyclical or repeating has proven to be beneficial in managing stress.
As you listen to music your breathing patterns get deeper and slower as it reduces stress levels at the physical and mental levels. This could be the best tool to alleviate stress at day to day levels.
If slow music doesn't work on you, you might go in for a Heavy Metal or Hard Rock if you are accustomed to listening to it which could be beneficial in the case at an individual basis.
Attending a music concert or group prayer could also benefit as a part of music therapy in some chronic ailments like cancer or psychiatric ailments like depression etc.
Taking walks with the music of your choice while you concentrate on your breathing patterns while you concentrate on your inhalation and exhalation could benefit in both ways which keep your stress away and while you keep fit physically.
Listening to nature’s sound like ocean waves and calmness of the forest could benefit to reduce stress. A walk for 15-20 minutes to your nearby seashore or woods around your home could be a beneficial way to reduce stress.
Music therapy could be an easy and effective tool to combat stress. This therapy could have lot advantages when compared to swallowing pills or taking any other medicines which could have unpleasant side effects.
(About Dr. Sangeeth Somanadhapai: I ama Naturopath, academician and stress management trainer with 20 years of experience at various levels, private and government projects).
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