Feel the beat to de-stress

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Music is powerful. A few bars can get your juices flowing, trigger a beautiful memory and bring incredible emotions to the surface. And it can help relieve stress. Here’s how to tune in to chill out.

The popularity of iPods and other MP3 players alone shows that we welcome music into our daily lives. And while music can bring us great pleasure, we now know that when music is combined with therapy, it can also help us overcome a slew of problems, including the harmful effects of too much stress.

Music therapy is different

If you tune into music in order to relax or lift your spirits, that’s great because music can certainly inspire those things. Music therapy, however, is different because you work with a trained music therapist to use music for emotional, physical, intellectual and even social benefits.

Music therapy is not instructional, meaning you are not taught how to play an instrument. Rather, it uses the making of music (regardless of your skill level) and your response to it (like movement or singing) as a way to bring about positive changes to your life.

These positive changes can be mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical. And since music is non-verbal and creative, it may be easier to explore areas of communication, self-awareness, self-expression and personal development.

All of this is done under the supervision of a music therapist.

How music can move you

Music can trigger some wellness benefits beyond what some music lovers may experience. But to boost the power of music as a healing helper, it must be done with a music therapist.

Here are just a few of the benefits of music therapy:

  • Helps with relaxation by reducing muscle tension and lowering your blood pressure
  • Relieves stress since music helps promote deep breathing and self-awareness so that you can deal with stress without triggering an unhealthy stress response
  • Improves your mood by helping to ease depression and anxiety, and boosts optimism
  • Gives your body a boost by bringing about better sleep
  • Sets the stage for change by encouraging personal development
  • Encourages communication through self-expression, creative thinking and by helping positive memories rise to the surface

Music therapy can also go further and is used to help children and adults of all ages overcome mental, physical or emotional challenges, deal with mental illness, chronic pain, speech or hearing impairments and even behavioural problems.

So while music is indeed powerful, music therapy can be even more so.

What to expect

If you decide to use the services of a music therapist, know that you’ll be in the hands of a trained professional who is also an accomplished musician. Through the use of assessments, your therapist will determine your needs, devise a plan of action, evaluate your progress and make changes as needed.

Music therapists can be found in private practice and at some hospitals, schools, homes for the aged, mental health facilities, hospices and palliative care facilities, and senior or rehabilitation centres.

To find a music therapist or to learn more, search "music" in the find support section or speak to your healthcare provider.


 

References
  • About: Stress Management, Music and your body: how music affects us and why music therapy promotes health, website
  • Canadian Association for Music Therapy, website
  • Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund, website
  • Healthy Ontario, Music as medicine, website

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