Music is one of the oldest and most universal traditions that humanity holds. Every culture, both ancient and modern, has developed and experimented with different forms of music. Music has played a part in ceremonies, celebrations, meditations and other events throughout our documented human history, but only recently have we had the equipment with which to study exactly what effect music has on people. Incredibly, music does more for us than anyone previously realized, both physically and mentally.
Because music is intangible, we have long suspected its mental benefits, even before we could study them. Modern science can now monitor brain activity and interpret brain signals into images on a screen, and like our intuition would indicate, we have observed proof that music has the ability to improve our mental state. Music consumption and creation engages our brains in ways that no other activity does. Listening to music inspires our creativity, sharpens our focus, increases our relaxation and empowers our self expression, as well as many other benefits.
The mental health benefits of music are vast, but something that comes as a bit more of a surprise is the fact that music also aids in our physical health. The connection between physical health and music is harder to detect scientifically, but studies still indicate that music has the ability to effect physical health over time. Playing music has been connected to reducing the pressure of headaches and migraines. Because of its calming effect, music can lower blood pressure. Music is even capable of reducing pain symptoms and boosting the immune system. If you are struggling with mental hardships or physical discomfort, it is wise to increase the music consumption in your life for its health benefits. Not all therapies are cognitive or analytical. Simply absorbing music can give you the peace of mind that you are craving.
It is arguable that music would not exist without people and inspiration. This is subjective, of course, because one could also argue that music exists everywhere in nature. However, humans organize music at a much higher level than the rest of nature and use it as a form of intellectual creative expression. People’s relationship with music is as old as time itself. There is no documented time in which people discovered music; it has simply always been a part of humanity. Music is as old as cave drawings and long lost societies. This reveals that people and music are intrinsically connected and are ever affecting one another.
It is common knowledge that music affects people. Music has been put to many practical mental and physical health uses. It inspires dance, art and masterful levels of musicianship that serve as people’s vocations and passions. It has long been said that music is the language of emotions, which is why music is good for people. Music expresses what words cannot. When a feeling is so powerful or overwhelming that words cannot suit it, music takes their place. Music can be something that people create or receive. Either use is powerful and impacting. Music aids in resolving mental health issues and is even proven to aid in the recovery of the physical body.
Equally true is that people affect music. Assuming that music could exist outside of humanity, people have taken music through an evolution of epic proportions. Music has gone from basic percussion, wind and string instrumentation in ancient times, to choral and symphonic groups that perform masterpieces, to the present music industry, which has become its own animal. Music as we know it has always been a product of human experimentation and expression, and over the course of humanity it has changed in resemblance a great deal. It is hard to imagine what kind of music awaits humanity in the future. There is no saying which way an art form will evolve. It is a product of too many mysterious factors to predict.
The idea that music has healing abilities is not a recent one. We have long known how music can soothe an agitated person or a send a baby off to sleep. Mental health professionals have discovered that music has enormous benefits to people’s mental and physical health. They have also noted that our need for music is very organic, much like how we need the vitamins that naturally occurring substances provide. Music is quite literally a medicine to us, physically and mentally. Some of the specific benefits we derive from music are as follows:
Calm. Music has a calming effect on us because it is purely sensory and requires no mental organization to listen to. The mind takes pleasure from music because it does not have to do any work to experience it. The mind rests while it receives music.
Clarity. Music is capable of opening up the mind and allowing a free flow of thoughts. It can affect the mind in a way that makes it highly productive and able to resolve challenges and piece many elements of life together in a logical way.
Stimulation. Music is able to give people an appetite for creativity, fresh ideas, new experiences and other stimulating ventures. It gets a great many mental and even physical processes moving and flowing.
Inspiration. The way that music inspires people is very unique. It has been found that playing music uses more of the human brain than any other endeavor that people go about. There is something about music that serves as our most perfect form of creative expression, and the inspiration we get from listening to it and creating it is overwhelming.
Lowered blood pressure. One of the physical benefits of music is lowered blood pressure. This goes hand in hand with the calming effect it has on people. Music help keeps your blood pressure regular and at a healthy rate.
Steady heart rate. Studies have shown that our heart rates actually fall in sync with the beat of the music we are listening to. Calming music is able to slow our heart rates down to a healthy, steady pace.
Treating cases of addiction and mental disorder is tricky business, but not all of it involves cognitive work on the self. Some therapies for addictions and disorders are merely sensory, such as music therapy. Applying the healing powers of music to addictions and mental disorders has proven to be a highly effective and accessible treatment option. Music has shown to relax, invigorate and balance people who are struggling with mental problems, alleviating a number of their symptoms. Music alone is not a fix for addictions and disorders, but it can be a strong component in recovery.
The process of listening to music is highly rewarding without being at all strenuous. Addicts and people with disorders are often given soothing music to listen to in treatment to help calm them and act as a therapeutic activity. Listening to music is a very sensory experience that offers the receiver a great deal of reward. They are free to let their imaginations wander, let their minds piece together a solution they have been grappling with, express emotion through tears or singing along, analyze the music to understand how it works or use it to enhance another activity.
For those addicts and people with mental disorders who are musicians themselves (which is not uncommon among musicians), the opportunity to write music is also readily available. Musicians who are struggling with addiction or disorder can greatly enhance their recovery by turning to their creative expression of choice to process what they are going through. Mental struggles have frequently spawned some of the best songs ever written because music can express what words cannot about a heavy mental struggle. Turning the devastation of addiction and disorder into a musical creation is one of the best ways to channel the energy that is generated by the mental struggle. Those who suffer from a co-occurring disorder of an addiction a mental disorder would benefit most from a dual diagnosis rehabilitation, but supplementing treatment with music therapy is always recommended.
There are many methods of enjoying the benefits of music. Whether you are receiving music or creating music, you will certainly discover mental benefits of it. If you are struggling with addiction or a mental disorder, it is important that you reach out to mental health professionals for treatment, but do not neglect the healing powers of music in your journey of recovery.