The Healing Power of Music
We all enjoy music for entertainment, but did you know that it might be beneficial for your mental and physical health? Psychologist Andriani Kalterimtzi-Sinouri explores the healing power of music and easy ways to incorporate it into your daily life.
Music is a universal language, the art of sound and a means of pleasure, a tonic for body and soul, and it benefits us all, regardless of our culture or location! For expats, music is often a connecting thread in our lives and associated with memories from our home or host countries. Recent research suggests that listening to music boosts our mental health and improves our physical wellbeing in some impressive ways. In addition to releasing feel-good hormones, music has many potential benefits, including:
- Improves your mood. Studies show that listening to music is beneficial for overall wellbeing, creates happiness – for example, by stimulating dopamine – and helps regulate emotions.
- Decreases stress levels and lowers anxiety. Listening to music you enjoy decreases the hormone cortisol in your body.
- Reduces pain. Patients recovering from surgery who listened to music during or after a surgery experienced less pain compared to patients who did not include music in their recovery.
- Enhances exercise. Studies show that listening to music during exercise can be a positive distraction from how much you are exerting yourself, and may improve performance.
- Increases memory and learning levels. People with Alzheimer’s are able to recall lost memories and even help maintain some mental abilities while listening to music.
However, in our busy everyday lives we tend to push music to the side. The good news is that there are easy ways to incorporate music into our everyday life and enjoy its benefits:
- Add music to your morning routine. Wake up with music! Set your alarm tone to a favourite song. Listen to music while drinking your tea or coffee, brushing your teeth or deciding what to wear. Dance alone or with someone, and notice how it changes your day!
- Play music during your commute. The daily commute can be one of the biggest energy and happiness drains of the day. It’s important to do something that you enjoy during that time, so how about listening to the music you love? A positive commute to work can improve mood and boost energy for the rest of the day. Or play soothing music on your way home to help you unwind from your working day.
- Put music on during routine chores. Few of us get excited about routine chores, like folding laundry and cleaning, and we tend to procrastinate on doing them. Make your tasks more fun by creating playlists to accompany you as you clean and mop and sweep. You’ll be done before you know it, and it’ll be more enjoyable than you thought!
- Play music while you exercise. Physical exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle and a perfect time to listen to music! Listen to relaxing music during your yoga session or create a running playlist.
- Music before bedtime. This is a great opportunity to relax and unwind after a long, demanding day. Studies show that songs with a slow tempo (60 beats per minute or less) help you relax. So, turn on some classical, ambient or acoustic music and include some breathing exercises to help you transition into sleep.
We are only just beginning to understand how this universal language can benefit us! We do know that music enables us to connect with and communicate our emotions and feelings, independent of our ethnic and cultural background. It also holds the power to bring people together. So, turn the music on (or up!), get yourself singing or dancing, and start feeling the power of music…
About the author
Andriani Kalterimtzi-Sinouri is a Greek-born expat living in the Netherlands. She holds an MSc in Developmental Psychology and her vision is to support children, adolescents and families to overcome their challenges.
PHOTO: Vlada Karpovich/Pexels
What’s your all-time favourite song, and why? We’d love to hear from our music-loving community!