How do you feel about music? Do you have a favorite type of music? Is the music you listen to when you’re happy different from the music you listen to when you’re sad? Do you use music to relax?
Although we may not think of it very often, music is very important to us as humans. I bet with just those couple questions you’re playing a song in your head or wishing you could go turn on some music right now! That’s not surprising, really. Humans have been creating and listening to music throughout history. Even Aristotle and Plato recognized how important music was – the idea that music can be healing (especially making us healthier and calmer) is at least as old as good old Aristotle and Plato! Isn’t that wild?! Can you imagine Aristotle rocking out to your favorite song?
So maybe Aristotle wouldn’t like my favorite band, but I think he would agree that happy music can create or enhance a good mood, calm music can help us relax, and sad or angry music can increase our feelings of sadness or anger too. Music can even help reduce anxiety, reduce our feelings of pain, increase our heart health, improve our memory, connect with and teach individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and ease issues as diverse as dementia, depression, and insomnia. Music is pretty amazing!
I bet you use music in a therapeutic way (Note: Different from Music Therapy – that requires a trained professional!) without even thinking about it! Can you think of a way you have? How about using fast-paced music to pump you up to exercise? Sad music to help you process the pain of a broken heart (or just have a good cry when you need one)? Peppy music to get yourself out of a bad mood or talk yourself out of the house when you just don’t want to go? Angry music when you feel like you’re fighting the world (and just need to get that anger out)? And then, even though we probably can’t call it therapy, blasting your favorite music out the car windows as you drive happily to some time off sure does feel good!
Through Psychology Today, an official board-certified music therapist suggests 5 ways we can use music to help us. Check out the article to read the details, but here are the 5 basic ways!:
1. Listen to music that enhances your current emotional state
2. Listen to music that changes your current emotional state
3. Be purposeful with your auditory environment
4. Actively listen to the music
5. Listen outside your comfort zone
Since music is so powerful, this is the first post in a series I’m calling “Music for Your Life”. I’ll be trying to present you with some different songs that might help you delve into certain feelings or think about certain issues. That might help you use music any of these 5 ways, but if you don’t know a song I present, consider trying it anyways – #5 is “Listen outside your comfort zone” after all! Be on the lookout for more posts about music, coming soon! Please also feel free to send ideas of your favorite songs to make you happy, help you deal with sadness, or process any other emotion. Our Life Skills Resource Group Facebook page is a great way to do this!
Please also remember that sometimes we need help to process emotions. We can’t do it all on our own. If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, just listening to happy music is unlikely to solve the problem. Plus, while processing emotions is important, we can also hurt ourselves by ruminating: focusing too much on difficult emotions, thoughts, or worries. If you’d like a partner in processing emotions or getting away from ruminating, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our counselors are excited to join you in figuring out the music of your life, whether through individual counseling, family counseling, or couples counseling.
Off to enhance my weekend with my very favorite band! ~Krista Bringley