Music Therapy and Stress

Music therapy and stress have something in common?

The rather powerful but often overlooked and widely beneficial effects of music therapy is bringing about relief for many people for a variety of conditions, including those that affect us both mentally and physically.

Thanks to the results of ongoing scientific research on the subject, music therapy and stress relief are quickly becoming synonymous with one another as scores of people are benefiting from the incredible healing qualities of simply listening to music.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy has now become an entire field of health care all on its own that is used to help patients with everything from physical conditions like cancer, chronic pain, and brain injuries to a host of mental ailments including attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, chronic stress, and anxiety.

Science tells us that music actually stimulates the brain's waves, and songs with fast or strong beats cause those brainwaves to mimic the sounds, bringing about a more alert state of thinking and concentration. On the other hand, slower, softer music will induce a sense of relaxation and calmness and even a positive state of mind, reducing negativity and depression, both of which are notorious for contributing toward stress.

Researchers have also discovered that the beneficial effects of music therapy on the brain and its activity levels are so profound that it continues to affect the way we process our emotions long after the music has stopped playing.

Perhaps one of the best aspect of using music for therapeutic purposes is that anyone may benefit from the practice from infants to the elderly and also those with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Music therapy is currently being used in environments such as hospitals, rehabilitative centers, psychiatric hospitals, schools, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, day care centers, senior citizen centers, and nursing homes.

A famous quote by seventeenth century English poet and playwright William Congreve reminds us that, "Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." The modern world of medicine is finally catching on to this hundred years old theory that was first referenced in the ancient writings of the scholars Plato and Aristotle who both noted the healing qualities and influences music had on both humans and animals.

The very first music therapy program offered by a college or university debuted back in 1944 at Michigan State University, over 50 years later, both the American Association for Music Therapy and the American Music Therapy Associations were founded and today a number of higher learning institutions offer courses and degree programs in the practice.

Music Therapy and Stress Relief

The damaging effects of chronic stress are rather evident as more and more of us are complaining of a wide variety of ailments, all of which can largely be attributed to high levels of stress and tension.

In a fast paced society with two-career families there's often little time to relax, add this to the worries about an uncertain economy and the rising cost of daily living and stress relief just isn't a minor concern anymore, but rather one that many people are finding themselves struggling with on a daily basis.

As we know, music has the potential to affect brainwaves but with that also comes other changes, including altering one's heart rate and breathing, both of which are manned by the body's autonomic nervous system. Slower, more rhythmic breathing and a slower heart rate will cause the body to enter a deep state of relaxation, counteracting the negative effects of stress, tension, and anxiety.

Music therapy and stress relief are also evidenced by the lowering of one's blood pressure, an invaluable benefit that will reduce the chance of having a stroke as well as other serious conditions related to the health of the heart and the brain.

Practitioners of music therapy recommend listening to upbeat songs while exercising or for elevating mood and turning pessimistic thoughts into optimistic ones as even lively music will help to relieve stress. While practicing yoga or meditating, softer tones will, of course, help your brain make the transition into that deeper state of relaxation that's needed.

Also, listening to songs with positive lyrics and uplifting messages will also help to alleviate stress, promote mental wellness and in turn, bring about physical healing as well.

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