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Music. You can’t escape it – it’s everywhere. But what most of us don’t realise, is music can have a very powerful influence on our emotions, moods and behaviour. Tamra Mercieca explains.
Songwriters and composers often base great works on the idea of mending a broken heart and according to recent medical research, they could be onto something. Today, medical practitioners and patients all over the world, use music in their anxiety and pain management programs.
Music is now being used to enhance the atmosphere in health resorts, clinics and even hospitals such as the Royal Melbourne. The hospitals’ manager of Events Arts, Debra Adamidis, says musicians perform in the hospital’s corridors and wards every week. “Live music takes patients out of that scary mind-set and improves the quality of their experience in hospital,” Adamidis says.
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Australian composer and musician John Levine says certain types of music help lower our stress levels, get a grip on things and manage our condition in a calm, focused state of mind. “Clients undergoing chemotherapy and who are experiencing fear, anxiety and discomfort from the treatment regime have used music as a calmative. It has allowed the patients to feel better able to cope with the side effects.
You may have heard of the ‘Mozart Effect’ before. It is based on the theory that classical music increases our brain activity to such an extent that it improves our performance, whether it be studying for an exam, or a busy day in the office. The relaxation brought on by a calming concerto was shown to relieve stress, which in turn, can help in cases of heart disease and stroke.
Shedding the kilos can also be made easier by putting on some relaxing music when sitting down for your evening meal. Eating whilst listening to Mozart will improve your metabolism and food digestion. Clinical studies show people take about three mouthfuls a minute when soothing music plays, versus at least four mouthfuls when there are no tunes in the background
On the other hand, eating while listening to rock music will make you eat faster. As a result you swallow bigger bits of food making it harder for your stomach to digest the food. And that, inevitably, leads to extra weight.
It’s no secret that exercising improves your mood, but add some up tempo music to your work out and one particular study has linked the pair with an increase in mental performance. Charles Emery, is the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. "Exercise seems to cause positive changes in the nervous system, and these changes may have a direct effect on cognitive ability,” he says.
Music is often used at the gym to get you pumped up for your exercise regime. Music therapist, Stephanie Thompson, says music can be used to motivate people to keep going on the cross trainer.
“If you look around any gym, it’s easy to notice when someone is listening to a song they like, or one which has a fast and strong pulse. They immediately start to work harder and the speed at which they are working becomes synchronised with the tempo of the song,” she explains.
Up tempo music works by narrowing our attention, which as a consequence, diverts our attention away from the sensations of fatigue when we’re sweating it out. It also alters our arousal levels and can therefore be used as a form of stimulant prior to competition or as a sedative to calm over-anxious athletes.
Rock music on the other hand, has been found to make people angry, or uptight. Of course it depends on the individual, but if you’re looking for mental and physical benefits, it could be wise to limit your listening to rock or heavy metal music.
Music is the medicine of the mind
Listening to music can rev you up or calm you down, depending on the rhythm and tempo. But certain sounds have particularly strong effects on our emotions and brain. Learn to choose music, not only for your listening enjoyment, but to improve your well-being. Music is often an untapped source or motivation and inspiration, and can deliver a stack of health benefits. Happy listening!
Tamra Mercieca is from the company Getting Naked and specialises in helping you find your inner beauty, energy, health and balance. If you'd like to know more visit http://www.gettingnaked.com.au and sign up for the Getting Naked newsletter, where you'll be privy to special deals and health tips designed to enhance your relationship with YOU.
Tamra Mercieca writes a weekly column for BayFM.com.au on health, lifestyle and balance. Her articles have been published in various health publications such as The Daily Telegraph/Herald Sun’s Body and Soul and Women’s Health and Fitness magazine. She also pens a coaching column in Nature and Health Magazine called ‘Ask Tamra’ and the Getting Naked column in Femme Fatale magazine.
You can read her full profile here.