If you have the gift to write and/or play musical instruments, you can experience the same benefits. This is likely to work best with music that you like and is pleasing to you. Music, that you do not find interesting or pleasing to the ears, may be more stressful than helpful – get rid of it.
Music can help in the following ways:
• Promote wellness
• Manage stress
• Alleviate pain
• Express feelings
• Enhance memory
• Improve communication
• Lower blood pressure
• Boost immunity
• Ease muscle tension
• Reduce burn out
There are several ways to manage stress with music:
To wash away stress, try taking a 20-minute “sound bath.” Put some relaxing music in your stereo or MP3 player, and lie in a comfortable position on a couch or on the floor near the speakers. For a deeper experience, you can wear headphones to focus your attention and to avoid distraction.
Choose music with a slow rhythm – slower than the natural heart beat which is about 72 beats per minute. Music with a repeating or recurring pattern is found to work best for most people.† As the music plays, focus on your breathing, letting it become deep, slow, and regular. Concentrate on the silence between the notes in music; this keeps you from analyzing the music and makes relaxation more complete.
For stimulation after a day of work, go for faster music rather than slow, calming music.
Familiarity often breeds calmness. When the going gets tough, go for a music you are familiar with, such as a childhood favorite or favorite oldies.
Take walks with your favorite music playing. Inhale and exhale to the beat of the music.
The sounds of nature, such as ocean waves or the calm of a deep forest, can also reduce stress. Try taking a 15 to 20 minute walk if you are near water or a quiet patch of woods. If not you can buy CDs of these sounds in many music stores.
The next time you shop for music, look for selections that will help you manage stress, as suggested. If you feel you might need assistance managing stress beyond these simple steps, contact your physician.
Source: Tyrone C. Atkinson, Cooperative Extension Service, Operation: Military Kids State Coordinator, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture