Music: The Secret to Mental Health and Balance While Aging

No matter where you travel, you’ll notice one universal truth — music has a very particular and powerful hold on us all. Cultures everywhere make and love music. This has been the case throughout history. We have used music to relax, communicate and celebrate — the human brain is hard-wired to react to music. According to Kimberly Sena Moore, a neurologic music therapist, “Your brain lights up like a Christmas tree when you listen to music.”

The magic of music goes much further than entertainment — there a surprising number of health benefits for the elderly, and there is a lot of evidence to support the fact that music is a secret weapon when it comes to maintaining optimal mental health and balance in our old age.

Boost Memory by Learning to Play an Instrument

If you want to ensure your memory is strong well into your winter years, consider picking up an instrument. Regardless of what you prefer to play, the act of learning how to play will sharpen your memory recall. This is because the process of learning and playing an instrument requires a great number of complex tasks, such as reading musical notes and knowing where to place your fingers. In time, this expands your working memory capacity and your ability to multiprocess without feeling overloaded. You will also be able to remember information for longer periods.

Music Can Act as a Stress Reliever

Coping with stress can become more difficult as we get older. We have less resilience to it, and it can affect us differently, which is stressful in and of itself. On top of changes in response to stress, we can experience changes in triggers as the years go by, so it is important we all find a way to cope.

There have been many studies to show music has a notable (and positive) effect on our stress and blood pressure levels. In fact, this is the case even if we’re not conscious. One study involving surgery patients found the use of music before an operation reduced stress levels to an even greater degree than anti-anxiety medication. The act of singing sends small vibrations throughout the body, which lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and releases endorphins, thereby helping to keep you calm and collected in trying times.

Music Can Reduce Falls in the Elderly

Remarkably, studies show when the elderly exercise while listening to music, it helps them maintain balance and reduce the risk of falling. Falling is a huge concern for those over the age of 65, and music might well be the answer. According to a 2011 Swiss study, where participants were trained to walk and perform certain movements in time to music, they experienced 54% fewer falls when compared to the control group. The study also found that walking speed and stride length increased as a result.

A Good Drum Beat Can Kickstart Brain Function

The brain instinctively syncs to a rhythm. Because of this, therapists use drumming to get through to patients with severe dementia who don’t normally respond to external stimulus. When dementia patients hear music, you can detect a noticeable shift. They show more of an interest in their surroundings, they clap to the beat or even sing. This is because music can stimulate many parts of the brain simultaneously. Music which was popular when the patient was between the ages of 18 and 25 generally gets the most positive response.

Music Can Soothe Physical and Emotional Pain

Swedish researchers have found your favourite music can be a great pain reliever, as it can distract us and boost positive emotions. Interestingly, by evoking nostalgia, music can help us get through the pain, both physical and emotional.

Music Can Combat Depression and Boost Happiness

A serotonin imbalance in the brain causes depression. When you listen to music, you experience a boost in serotonin, so music can be used as a tool to combat depression in the elderly. Doctors claim the simple act of singing can release oxytocin, providing a significant mood booster. So while music alone may never entirely relieve the symptoms brought about by depression, it can certainly do its bit to enhance wellbeing.

Music Provides Opportunities for Social Interaction

Music can provide an essential source for social contact, which promotes interaction and a sense of belonging. This is increasingly important as we age. By incorporating music therapy and joining a choir, the opportunities to socialise and collaborate let us make new friendships and create new bonds.

Music Can Improve Quality and Quantity of Sleep

Many seniors don’t get as much sleep as they need, which can cause serious medical issues in time. Lack of sleep has been shown to have a profound and negative impact on mental health and wellbeing. A 2009 meta-analysis found music can improve the quality and quantity of sleep. Of course, the benefits may not happen overnight. But if you persist, in as little as three weeks, you should notice a pay off from this relaxation technique. Some of these include falling asleep faster and remaining asleep for longer.

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.

Self-Connection: The Power of Music

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Have you ever heard the first note of a song and been suddenly transported to another place and time – a distant memory – an emotional reprisal?

I have experienced that throughout my whole life, and I love it. Music is a powerful force in my life in a multitude of ways. Maybe, you can relate.

I choose my music based on my current mood or the mood I’m hoping to experience. It can garner feelings of sadness, melancholy, grief, heartache, joy, love, excitement, and inspiration …and so much more.

Sometimes, I like to be surprised by music. I find that listening to a radio station in the car, on satellite, or in a public place where I have no say in what is played can be so much fun and informative if I pay attention.

Receiving Guidance through Lyric

Have you ever been grappling with a problem, struggling with an emotion that you are not enjoying, seeking an answer to some deeply personal question; suddenly a song starts playing and an insight is realized?

You have been guided.

Maybe, you are wondering about someone from your past ~ sifting through memories ~ and that song plays. You know the one. And suddenly you know that it is time to reach out ~ or maybe, time to let go.

I have even noticed that if I set my intention on receiving guidance that I can still receive it even if I don’t necessarily like the particular song. This happened a little while ago when I got my first speeding ticket in years. And believe me, that’s a big deal because I had been quite good at it in my teens and early twenties ~ lead foot.

Anyway, as I drive away with my almost $200 fine, privately complaining about how the police officer hadn’t been very friendly, I tuned into the song on the radio.

“Too bad that you had to get caught

That’s not like you to lose face

So sad that you’re not as smart

As you thought you were in the first place”

An old Doug and The Slugs song that didn’t hold any special personal meaning for me, but spoke loud and clear that day in my car. And I don’t think the message was just about speeding!

Music as a Vibration

Whether you are listening to old school rock, reggae, blues, country or metal, music is a vibrational frequency. Music impacts us in ways that are not only emotional and intellectual, but also energetic.

Music can rev you up, inspire you, encourage you, put you to sleep, make you angry or make you cry. And, it’s not always just because we have attached a story to it or linked it to memory.

Music as a vibrational frequency has the power to heal.

Music can alleviate stress, enhance concentration, improve learning capacity and memory.

Music can impact upon our brain waves and induce higher levels of consciousness.

Music is a universal language that has the power to transcend time and space, to bring joy, to soothe, and to facilitate self-expression.

Whether it is a synchronistic or intuitive message, a balm for what ails, or the jolt of energy you need to continue, music as a vibrational frequency in any form can be used as a path to Self-Connection.

Sound Healing Research and Development

Sound Sync Technologies™ is a Scientifically proven sound healing technology developed by Ted Winslow. Ted invented this specialized sound healing music after 25 years of research and development of healing Solfeggio Frequencies, Binaural Beats, Theta Brainwave Technology, layering of frequencies, Sacred Geometry, Numerology, and spherical sound waves which are composed and mastered in a unique way to have a positive affect on the human energy field.

Through his unique style he has developed a form of sound healing that layers his compositions to maximize the healing effect that replicates the brain’s natural process while simultaneously providing a more powerful healing response.

Learn More about the Power of Music

In the famous words of Nicola Tesla, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe,
think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration”.

Next week, I will introduce you to my guest for that show. I am thrilled to be interviewing Ted Winslow, the creator of Sound Sync Technologies™ who will share even more with us about the healing powers of music, sound, and vibration. This show promises to be packed with information, a taste of Ted’s creations, and a nice little surprise as well.

Self-Connection ~ The Power of Music is the topic of the next episode of Serving Consciously on Friday October 28 at 12:00 noon (PST) on www.ctrnetwork.com.

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.

Anomaly: Why Lecrae Inspires Me and Should Inspire You

Recently, Christian Rap artist, Lecrae, reached the top of the Billboard 200 in the first week of his album release. Anomaly is the seventh contribution to conscious hip-hop from a rather prolific artist. The inspiration is that Lecrae achieved with commitment, a gift, and some savvy marketing. He achieved something I know is possible, yet so rarely gets shared.

403_1lecrae_cc2_cover_final_freeHe convinced others to share in his vision while staying true to his commitment. The result for me is twofold. In one hand, I am inspired to keep producing, holding my commitment in tact despite the voices telling me to sacrifice my ethics for certain success.

In the other hand, I have a new example of success to share—one that has popular appeal and a message that quality product trumps the chase to replicate popular trends.

My Hip-Hop Obsession

Full disclosure, I am fan of hip-hop. I revel in the culture and the music. I see it as evidence of a reality that needs to be expressed. I value even the grandiosity, the exaggeration, the hyperbole, the bragging, and, Yes, the language. I enjoy that for every mood I have, there is a baseline and string ensemble that can express my feelings.

Yes, sometimes it’s rage at a system that seems constructed to oppress me. Sometimes, I find solace in a song expressing my need to achieve beyond my wildest dreams. Sometimes, my mood relates to a song that denigrates those who doubted me or didn’t think I was worthy of investing in.

Industry & Artist Choice

Yet, I have often wondered why it seemed that the industry and artists made a point to move even further away from conscious rap presented with radio-friendly PG-13 lyrics. Instead, it seems that industry and artists have normed the over-exaggerated, curse-laden, NC-17 themes of violence, sex, and self-hatred. The simple answer back in 2008 was that it sold. Case in point is Tha Carter III, which sold over a million copies in a week. My argument in return is a request to look at the tracks. Lil Wayne tapped into something about our culture in 2008 reflected in our expectation that life would continue to get better.

Making Social Work Famous?

Lecrae didn’t make it to a million sold in one week. Figures from his chart topping sales place him in the 88,000 copies sold range. In second place was Maroon 5 with about 83,000 in sales. But, I want hip-hop industry A&R and artists (and my students, coaching clients, and others who will listen) to look at the track list for Anomaly. Lecrae taps the same formula for success that worked for Lil Wayne back in 2008. Lyricism, cursing, use of violence and sex, are choices not a requirement to make sales. To inspire sales, you have to inspire the listeners. Listen to what they are saying, and listen on the level of feelings. Produce something that reflects these feelings, AND point out a path to coping and adaptation. I almost agree with Kirk Franklin who tweeted a hashtag in response to Anomaly’s success,

I see it another way. To meet the clients where they are, to support successful coping, and to point out a path to increased, sustainable success is what Social Workers do every day! To borrow, Kirk’s thought: Lecrae! #MakeSocialWorkFamous.

Lecrae’s success suggests at least two things for you Social workers who aspire to greater respect. First, keep working with your ethics in tact. Listen to clients on multiple systems levels. Create interventions at all systems levels to promote service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.

Second, your product is your evidence of value. Focus on improving the outcomes for your clients. Share your process for client success. Integrate the micro and the macro. Integrate the personal and professional. Get comfortable with being unpopular, while representing the most sustainable. Be an Anomaly.

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