The Myriad Benefits of Music

N.Vijayagopalan

 

MUSIC – Has the word originated as the abbreviation of ‘Mind’s Ultimate State of Inner Calm’? It could be a possibility going by the myriad benefits music showers upon human beings. Several reports indicate that more and more people across the world are becoming lovers of music. It is seen that the number of those who find time to learn music is also increasing.

Enjoying music in any form is relaxing. Singing lowers stress levels by releasing stored muscle tension and decreasing the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your blood stream. The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions and so can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. Another study found that listening to classical music improved sleep quality in students with sleep problems, more so than listening to an audiobook or nothing at all. Classical music affects the brain's organization and abilities, through its melody and rhythm. The rhythm raises the level of serotonin produced in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, involved in the transmission of nerve impulses that helps maintaining joyous feelings.

Research suggests that music not only helps us cope with pain — it can also benefit us physically and mentally in numerous other ways. Music affects the brain in many positive ways. It makes you smarter, happier and more productive at any age. Listening is good, playing is even better. We are all familiar with how certain pieces of music can change your mood, get you motivated, or help you concentrate. If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

Music therapy is a burgeoning field. Those who become certified music therapists are accomplished musicians who have deep knowledge of how music can evoke emotional responses to relax or stimulate people, or help them heal. And they can find that music in your favorite genre, be it electropop or grand opera. Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life, by using music experiences such as free improvisation, singing, and listening to, discussing, and moving to music to achieve best results for the treatment.

Singing improves mental alertness as improved blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allow more oxygen to reach the brain. In elderly adults with depression, a home-based program of music therapy may have long-lasting effects. In depressed adult women, music therapy may lead to reductions in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and depressed mood.

Playing a musical instrument makes you smarter, it has been claimed. New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills. It can even significantly increase the IQ in both children and adults, according to researchers.

All said, not all types of music have favourable effects, however. Too loud or too jarring music can be distracting, and can compete for our attention with what we're trying to do. Listening to too much pop and hard rock music can make you more jittery than energized. Vary what you listen to and find out what type of music is the most beneficial for you. You could try classical music one day, pop the next day and then some jazz.

Here are some facts about the effect of music in brief, which have been scientifically proved through several research studies.

  1. Music can meaningfully reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine.
  2. Listening to classical music effectively treats insomnia and improves sleep quality, making it a safe, cheap alternative to sleep-inducing medicines.
  3. Playing soft music (and dimming the lights) during a meal can help people slow down while eating and ultimately consume less food in one sitting.
  4. The emotions patients experience while listening to music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function resulting in increased blood flow in their blood vessels and regulation of blood pressure.
  5. Listening to music can relieve stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers.
  6. Listening to slow musical beats can induce a meditative state by creating brainwave activity similar to when a person is meditating or is in a hypnotic state with a therapeutic effect.
  7. Music puts people in a better mood and even a self-awareness mood and helps them to get in touch with their feelings.
  8. Background music enhances performance on cognitive tasks by improving a person’s emotional state.
  9. Music helps people perform better in high-pressure situations.
  10. Music’s effect on anxiety levels has been found to be similar to the effect of getting a massage.
  11. Listening to music has been found to help put cardiovascular surgery patients at ease as they awaited their operations.
  12. Listening to music while resting in bed after open heart surgery has been found to help relax patients and decrease their stress levels.
  13. Listening to music while driving can positively impact mood.
  14. Music has been found to help cancer patients communicate their feelings, manage stress, and ease physical pain and discomfort and also reduce anxiety and improve their quality of life.
  15. It was found by researchers that when stroke patients listened to music for two hours a day, their verbal memory and attention improved and they had a more positive mood compared to patients who didn’t listen to music.
  16. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.
  17. Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones.

Regardless of our taste in music, it is clear that listening to music benefits our health, our body and mind, in myriad ways. It pays well if we spare at least one hour every day to enjoy the music of our taste. Developing a taste for music, learning music, singing on social occasions etc. are all really satisfying experiences adding to our wellness and over-all health. 

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