The healing benefits of music

We are living in a very stressful time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re bombarded from every direction with instructions on how to take care of our physical health so that we can avoid contracting the virus. But during this most challenging of times we must take care of our mental health, too.

As a result of all the recommendations for social distancing and, as more and more states issue shelter-in-place orders to residents, people are becoming physically isolated and dwelling on the uncertainties of the future: Will I contract the virus? Are my loved ones safe? What about my job; can I pay my bills? When will the pandemic end?

There is a heightened level of anxiety among the general population, but even more so for people who already suffer from anxiety, OCD, and other mental health issues.  

Many people feel a real sense of helplessness and even hopelessness as they sit at home, day after day, watching the news and thinking about the impacts that the virus has had and will have on themselves and their loved ones.

But there are things that you can do to help deal with your anxiety and fears, and listening to and/or making music is one of them. Music can help to reduce your stress and anxiety, can help to distract you from negative thoughts and feelings and can even help to relieve symptoms of physical and mental health conditions.

Music has been used to decrease physical as well as emotional pain while increasing the quality of life in both medical and psychiatric hospitals, drug and alcohol rehab programs, cancer centers, and nursing care facilities as well as assisted living facilities.  

Music can help to calm your fears and decrease your level of stress and anxiety. Choose music that is calming or distracting for you, and, if and when you feel yourself becoming depressed, anxious, or fearful, simply put on your headphones, turn on the music, close your eyes, and breathe to the music. 

Put together a playlist of songs with positive associations that you can listen to when you need a quick boost. Songs are often associated with good memories from your past, and can transport you back to a happier time.

Music can lift your mood, something that is so needed in this time of crisis. Whether it’s turning the volume up to 10 on your favorite song, singing or playing along to it, or even getting up and dancing around your living room, music can help clear your head of negative thoughts and provide a fun distraction from the depressing or worrisome news of the day.

People across the globe have been creative in using music to battle their social isolation and to boost morale. Videos of Italians singing and playing music from their balconies have gone viral. Musicians are streaming live music via social media. Sharing music has become a way of connecting people during the COVID-19 pandemic in a responsible way. 

So get busy and enjoy your favorite tunes. Or, compose your own music, dance to your favorite ballet, put on a musical with your kids, or lose yourself in your favorite piece of classical music as it’s being streamed online by some of the world’s greatest orchestras.