Why Music is Good for Your Mental Health

So many of us struggle with mental health issues, and sometimes it can seem as though nothing is helping. For many, music causes a strong emotional reaction, and it can have more of an impact on our mental health than you might think. Here’s a little more about music and mental health.

The Effect of Music on Your Brain

Recently, it has been discovered that listening to music releases dopamine, something known as the feel-good chemical in your brain. Alongside this, it has also been found that those who listen to music that they enjoy have dopamine levels that are up to 9% higher. This discovery was one of the first strong pieces of scientific evidence that link music and mental wellbeing.

Why Music is Good

There are a few reasons why music is so good for your mental health, aside from the release of dopamine in your brain. For one, it is a form of self-expression. Not all of us have a way with words, and it can be hard to express exactly how you feel. Sometimes, the right song can mean everything to a person, helping them to understand the way they feel and expressing it to others.

It can also help you to just sit back and relax for a little while. This is particularly helpful if you are a high-strung or anxious person, as while everyone needs some time to relax, you need it even more. Put on some calm and easy music, recline on the sofa, and just close your eyes. You’ll be surprised by how good you feel afterwards.

It can increase your focus levels. Sometimes we have trouble concentrating, and music can help to give your attention span a good boost, allowing you to focus a little better on the task at hand. Generally, classical music has a tempo of 60 beats per minute, which is the best speed to increase the brain’s information processing efficiency. Of course, the music you choose should have no lyrics and play softly in the background.

Music Therapy

In terms of therapies, music therapy is a relatively new concept, but it has also been met with positivity and great results. It could be an excellent option for those who find music to be the best form of expression and communication.

Music therapy uses the qualities and musical components of rhythm, melody, and tonality, to provide a form of turning music into a form of therapy. During sessions, people work with a wide range of accessible instruments, along with their voices, to create a musical language that reflects their emotional and physical feelings and conditions.

This can help to build connections with both themselves, and those around them. The music therapists are there to help support communications using instrumental music and voice that is either sung or spoken, and sessions can either be undertaken in a one on one or group environment.

It has been scientifically proven that music is good for your mental health. Just taking some time out to sit back and relax with your favourite songs can do your mind a world of good. Or, if you want to take it a step further, music therapy could be extremely beneficial to you. If you needed an excuse to listen to music and didn’t have one before, you certainly have one now.

Music Therapy and Its Healing Potential

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Music therapy has proven to be highly efficient as a therapeutic intervention in medical and personal settings, and it is a growing field of practitioners. People wear headphones and listen to music to cope, dream, escape, and/or just have a wonderful time. Think about your favorite song and the feelings it evokes. Do you want to sing along? Dance? Hold up a lighter and sway from side to side?

These are only a few of the simplest ways to describe in which music helps us heal and express a range of emotions. There have been numerous studies on the effects of music on people with cognitive impairments that show how something as simple as handing someone an MP3 player with certain music can really make a different. Vibroacoustic therapy is a form of music therapy that uses patented equipment and software that was developed by Olav Skille in 1968.

Vibroacoustic therapy relies on using sound waves applied to the body in order to produce relating physical and mental effects. In present times, vibroacoustic therapy can be administered through lying or sitting on a surface that is embedded with speakers that conducts the vibrations while listening to music of a certain frequency. This arrangement allows for the client to really feel the music while listening.

The key to this type of therapy is making it a live, interactive experience that is not only audibly stimulating but also kinesthetically stimulating. Vibroacoustic therapy has been used to treat Alzheimer ’s disease, premature babies, children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, chronic physical pain, and other visible and invisible illnesses.

Recently, music producer Timbaland did an interview with Hot 97 in order to discuss his feelings on the future of the music industry and introduce his new artists. While at the studio, he was wearing a Subpac. The Subpac is a product that can either be worn as a backpack or placed on a chair. Producers, DJs, and others affiliated with the music industry use the Subpac as a way to “feel” the music similar to how you feel the beat in a car with a serious bass system in the trunk. I was intrigued because I wondered if there was a place for the Subpac in therapeutic usage.

As of right now, I’m not personally aware of portable music therapy devices similar to the Subpac, but why not create an adaptable portable version of a Vibroacoustic therapy device for the masses? For instance, Subpac has joined forces with Muse:

The Muse Seek Project fosters inclusion and aims to open up the world of music to Deaf children across the Dominican Republic and the world. Through Participatory Action Research methods, Maria Batlle, founder of The Muse Seek Project helps children in the Deaf community experience music. Read More

I can see the potential for the Subpac exploring its adaptability for music therapy, especially since it can easily be worn like a backpack or draped on a chair like a massager. The Subpac is available to the public and can be purchased online. It was great to see Timbaland support such a project in order to bring it to light for not just music artists and DJs, but also for everyday people who could truly benefit from being able to heal and groove on the go.

Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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According to the National Center for Children in Povery (NCCP), “One in 10 youth has serious mental health problems that are severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or in the community.” There are no two children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or any disorder that affects them the same. So, how do we know how to treat each individual child?

Watching her grow up, we all knew my sister was just a little bit different. She doesn’t like hugs, she hates clothes that are anything but loose, and the littlest of things can stress her out to the point of crying. Later, we found out my little sister had a mix of anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and some Asperger’s tendencies.

She has been teased and made fun of, her dad tries forcing her out of it and it only causes more problems. Some people don’t seem to understand this is not a condition to grow out of and forcing change will only work to exacerbate her challenges. She has both a school counselor and an out of school counselor in which she sees on a regular, and it appears to be helping. Also, art and music have been a great therapeutic benefit along with taking care of the family pets. Some children may require medication, however, there are a number of other therapies that maybe instrumental in help you developing a holistic mental health plan for your child.

Counseling:

Although talk therapy would be relatively impossible for autistic children, a school counselor or a counselor in general is nice to have. A counselor can be another person that a child can trust to help them get through whatever it is that they are dealing with. They can also do other therapies, that do not include talking, while in a session that could help the child learn and grow.

A school counselor should not only be supportive for the child but for the family of the child also. A child with a disorder is more likely to be teased and bullied, which can both be hard on the child and the family. A counselor should be another person the family can look to for support in times of need.

Animal-assisted therapy:

One kind of therapy that has been showing great improvements in children and adults is animal-assisted therapy. It has helped result in educational, mental, motivational and physical improvements. Children can easily make bonds with animals which teaches them and later helps them form bonds with other people as well.

According to everydayhealth.com “more research is still needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits of animal-assisted therapy specifically for children with autism, a number of studies have suggested it could help.” Even though the research is not completed yet, studies have shown that it is helping ASD children cope with the struggles of life.

Art and Music:

Art and music is another way for a child with ASD to express themselves. A lot of children don’t know how to express themselves with words but give them music, an instrument or something to draw on and you might just figure out how they are feeling.

According to the American Art Therapy Association , “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.” Art therapy is benefiting people by helping them manage behaviors, reduce stress, resolve conflicts and improve interpersonal skills.

All of these combined have really helped my little sister and have made her life so much easier. She has formed deep bonds with her animals, spends her free time drawing and coloring and her counselor has been helping her open up to more of the family and become more connected.

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