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Music Can Dramatically Improve Life

Isolated, stressed out, or overloaded? Check out how music can help.

It’s March, we’re heading into the second year of the pandemic, and it’s becoming abundantly clear that women are disproportionally bearing the brunt of it. The good news? While we work towards substantive change for the future, there’s something women can turn to for immediate relief, music. Recent research – both real-world evidence and clinical research – shows that music can be an incredibly powerful tool for relaxation, healing, and wellness; this is particularly true for women. Women are more receptive to this creative medium and can be impacted by it to a greater degree.

Music has a unique ability to elicit physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual responses in a complex and simultaneous fashion. When we listen to a song from our past, we don’t just recognize the song. We are moved emotionally, we respond physically, we are drawn back vividly to that moment in time, how we felt, what we were doing, and who we were with. It is this multifaceted impact that makes music so powerful. With music’s capacities and women’s unique response to it, now is the perfect time for women to include music as an essential part of their self-care.

Not only are there so many different types of music, but there are also so many different ways of engaging with music. Employing as much diversity as possible will make for the best self-care toolbox.

Listening to music can be a foundation in self-care. Depending on the music, it can be used for relaxation and meditation. Alternately, it can be used to energize and motivate. I have a great playlist for house cleaning – can’t do without it. Music listening can be used on one hand for mindfulness, allowing us to focus on the immediate present. On the other hand, music listening can take us away from it all, distracting us from the perhaps not-so-pleasant present. Music listening can also be used for personal exploration. Pure music or music with lyrics can provide an invaluable opportunity to pause and reflect. Songs by women singer/songwriters can be particularly helpful for women, and there are so many great artists out there now. For music listening, there’s no “right” choice. Research shows that the most effective music is very individual, it is our preferred music.

Making music can be an equally important part of self-care. Singing can take music to a deeper level in self-care; it doesn’t matter whether you sing along with your playlist or in the shower. Other types of music-making can be used depending on what’s in your skillset and what's at hand, from singing bowls to guitars and keyboards.

Sharing music may sometimes be overlooked but can be effective in self-care. In exploring music with other women, you can break social isolation, make connections, and gain a greater understanding of life’s experiences. Book clubs have become such a trend for women. Perhaps music clubs could become the next hot trend.

In closing, here’s a song to get you started: Roar by Katy Perry. Listen to it, sing along with it, and share it with others.

More from Sandi Curtis Ph.D., MTA, MT-BC
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