Not a Freudian Slip: The Magic of Music on Health, Part 2

Contributor: Connie Mester, MPH 
To learn more about Connie, click here.


image001.pngThere is a solid amount of evidence demonstrating the transformational power music can have on our lives and in our communities.  Part 1 provided a brief overview of how music positively impacts all seven dimensions of well-being and has proven educational, therapeutic, and social value. There’s so much more to explore from a historical and cultural perspective, and there is so much evidence that can be shared.  The purpose of this article  is to move beyond sharing additional research.  If you need further proof, doing a quick web scan or PubMed search will reveal thousands of articles and publications.  

The aim with most articles is to inform, to get you thinking about the information, and examining what it means to you. In the next two articles, I am hoping to go a few steps further to help you apply what you have learned about music and begin to practice and experience the positive impacts, which will hopefully reinforce your eagerness to sustain.  

Learning - acquiring knowledge and building skills - happens along a continuum.  Observing, understanding, planning, acting, reflecting, and achieving are all part of the complete process.  Much of the education within our schools and even offered as training in the workplace does a good job of sharing information to increase basic knowledge and skills.  Progressing through learning methodology steps, where an individual can embody and sustain the knowledge and skill development, is true mastery.  My quest is to bridge from simply sharing information to helping you discover how to apply and master the concepts that are most meaningful to you. This article offers ideas on ways music can connect, heal, and shift mindsets to influence you to take action and weave music into your daily routine.  Part 3 will share further ways to master the positive impacts of music by integrating it within your roles as individuals, as healthcare leaders, as educators, and community citizens. 


Music can change the world because it can change people. - Bono

Evidence has demonstrated that music has the ability to transform our brain.  Music has the ability to ignite creativity, deepen learning, skill development, memory, and performance. That is why it is so important in education.  How can changes be made to incorporate more music into the school curriculum? 

Just as music is critical to learning development, music, music therapy, and music medicine provide a non-pharmacological, non-invasive, and economically viable alternative to healing physical and mental health conditions. As people engage and adhere more to treatment plans influenced by musical interventions, mood, stress, sleep quality, and pain management improve, and the rehabilitative nature of the music helps reduce negative symptoms of a multitude of acute and chronic conditions.  How can we integrate music interventions into first-line treatment and expand music’s positive influence in mainstream healthcare?

We’ve learned that weaving music into our daily routine provides positive impacts.  Within communities, music can help reduce isolation and improve cooperation and social cohesion, while in the work environment, music’s effects can boost morale, motivate productivity, and stimulate endurance.  So how do we take steps to unify our communities and incorporate this proven valuable asset into the areas of great potential? How do we make a change and start feeling the positive impact of music? We each play a part.

“Music does bring people together . . . . No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics, or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”  - John Denver

We have all been in a funk.  Perhaps you woke up in blah mood, or there was a situation at work that irritated you, or during your commute another passenger was extremely rude, or you are stressed out about an upcoming medical procedure.  Each of these situations is an opportunity to test these positive research findings personally.  See if you can use music as a conduit to shift your thinking.  For the next few weeks, find ways to infuse music into your daily routine and see if music can have an impact on your concentration, coping, creativity, energy, and mood. For example, through your car radio or mobile device during your commute home use music as a way to shift your thinking into a new gear and mindfully transition into “home” mode, leaving the worries of work behind so you can be fully present in your next role. The included list is provided to offer suggestions and by no means is meant to be a cure-all solution.

Choose wisely….Music has powerful effects, and different types of music create individual responses. Be thoughtful in what music you select for what type of situation.  Different tempos can help stimulate different feelings/energy. If you need to relax your mind during times that you are stressed, nervous, or anxious, find a soothing tune that has a calming effect.  Whereas, during times you need an energy boost, an upbeat, more rapid rhythm is more stimulating.  Music streaming options like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and others offer play lists on a multitude of topics, allowing you to search by your mood. For example, on Spotify = “Happy Hits,” “Mood Booster,” “Calm Vibes,” and “Motivation Mix” or on YouTube “Good Mood Music Playlist - best mood changing songs.”  Or find and make your own playlist with favorite tunes. 

Several years ago I decided to find my personal theme song.  This is a song that gives me a jolt of energy and helps shift my thinking.  I got the idea from Chipper Jones who played for the Atlanta Braves.  When the first 30 seconds of Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne came on you knew that Chipper was up next.  Not sure if this ‘entrance music’ was played to elevate his level of confidence or boost excitement for the fans or even trigger nostalgia of past memories as it did for me, as the last time I saw Chipper Jones up to bat was nearly 20 years ago. Find your happy ‘theme’ song, a tune that snaps you right into a good mood.  Certainly not a solve for every situation, however immersing yourself into the rhythm of the beat can transition or at minimum pause negative thinking.

By personally testing these suggestions, you can build your own evidence on how the magic of music affects your mood, your health and your life.  The third and final article will highlight ways to apply, embody, and sustain the positive impacts of music throughout our day across the different roles we play, as individuals, as healthcare leaders, as educators and community citizens. 


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