For centuries, music has served as soul medicine for people of all ages, races, ethnicities, locations and predilections. As a tool, music has the power to transport us outside of ourselves, or deeper into ourselves, where many would argue we can not only relax and decompress more easily, but perhaps also dance with the divine.
Read Related: Music Makes Us Human
Jane Collingwood suggests that “Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. As music can absorb our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same time it helps to explore emotions. This means it can be a great aid to meditation, helping to prevent the mind wandering.” Some prominent psychologists are now using music as part of therapy programs to reduce stress and anxiety.
Whether you have the time or insurance coverage to go to a psychologist or not, here are 15 ways to decompress using music. Have some other ideas? Tell us below, in Comments.
1. Skip the club and go to a classical concert. Listening to slow, quiet classical music can reduce stress. So, next time that you feel like letting your hair down at a nightclub, try going to a classical music concert instead.
2. Join a choir or singing group. Joining a choir, barbershop quartet, or other singing group can help improve your overall mental health. One study found that group singing is as effective as yoga in reducing stress.
3. Get into chanting. A form of yoga, called yoga chanting, or yoga of sound has been shown to connect us with our inner selves, which can have positive physical and mental health benefits. Other rhythmic yoga techniques, such as the chanting of seed mantras, may provide similar benefits.
4. Take a stab at writing lyrics. Writing your own song lyrics can help you to release pent-up emotions and thus, reduce stress.
5. Sing in the shower. Are you afraid to sing in the shower because you might be embarrassed? Get over it! Singing in the shower can reduce your blood pressure, strengthen your throat and facial muscles, improve your memory, decrease pain and strengthen your immune system. Doing the air guitar thing can have similar benefits.
6. Get your hum on. If you can’t sing; hum. Psychology Today reports that humming can improve the health of your sinuses, quiet your overactive brain and, simply put, make you happy.
7. Start a karaoke night. A recent segment of The Doctors touted the health benefits of having a karaoke night. It can get you out of that blue funk and reduce your levels of stress hormones. So, go for it!
8. Make a “stress-busting” playlist. We all know songs that we can rely upon to reduce our stress, let us chill out, or just make us feel better. This effect occurs even if the songs are sad. In this day of iPads and MP3 players, you can create your own playlist of stress-busting songs. Some music websites even feature stress relief playlists.
9. See music as a tool to make you healthier. Music has been shown to reduce stress in heart patients. It’ll work for you, too.
10. Be a whistle-blower. Take up whistling. It will reduce your stress, make you happy and maybe, make someone else happy, too.
11. Sing a lullaby to your kid. Singing lullabies to your children relaxes them, making it easier for them to go to sleep. It also relaxes you. Plus, if the kids sleep, so do you!
12. Watch musical shows like “Glee.” In this popular television series about a high school glee club, the performers channel all their emotions into their songs. It’s hard to to release a little of our own pent up emotions, from joy to grief, while watching these talented singers.
13. Join a drum circle. Drumming has been shown both to energise and relax people. Some researchers think that we are born with a natural sense of rhythm and that drumming may stimulate this.
14. Take up that instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. Having taken music lessons during your life, may reduce your chance of developing dementia as you age. This is because learning to play an instrument increases neural connections in your brain. These extra connections are thought to later compensate for any cognitive declines you might suffer as you age.
15. Have the right soundtrack for your life. Now that you know how healthy music can be, why not set your life to it? There are playlists available for almost every mood or activity; or invent your own. From climbing a mountain to cleaning out the fridge, there’s a playlist for that!