How Music Benefits Mental Health

Music, medicine, and the military may not be three things you would readily put together, but music therapy actually got its start courtesy of the U.S. War Department in 1945, according to Cleveland Clinic. Service members in Army hospitals were the first to benefit from music therapy as it was used as part of occupational therapy, education, physical reconditioning, and recreation. In the years since, the healthcare community has learned a great deal more about how music benefits mental health. Those benefits can be appreciated by people of all ages, including seniors.

How Music Benefits Mental Health

Music is a powerful force that can have a real impact on how you think and feel, so it should come as no surprise that it can affect your mental health. What may startle you is the sheer variety of ways that it can impact you.

Improve Focus

When concentrating is hard, turning on the tunes can make it easier to focus. OpenMind reports that researchers from Australia’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour, and Development have discovered that music boosts memory and retention and optimizes learning capabilities.

Enhance Creativity

Having music playing, particularly happy music, has been shown to increase creativity. This isn’t just a boon for artistic people. It’s handy for everyone. Consider this: creativity is a major factor in solving problems.

Reduce Stress

Stress contributes to a number of acute and chronic illnesses. Reducing the amount of it in your life can make you feel better and improve your health. Listening to music can be an effective way to reduce stress. If you need proof, studies have shown that listening to music decreases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Decrease Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are serious mental health issues, and far too many Americans struggle with them. Simply listening to music can be a powerful way to combat these conditions because it triggers the release of dopamine, a neurochemical that helps you feel better. Connecting with a music therapist may offer a more formal way to explore how music benefits mental health.

Process Negative Emotions

When you’re angry or upset, listening to music that reflects those feelings can provide a healthy outlet. It’s also worth noting that music can be a tool to help you move past those negative emotions when you’re ready. If you’re feeling stuck in a bad place, gradually shifting toward more positive music can help you shift your mood to a more positive place.

Slow Cognitive Decline

Several studies have demonstrated that listening to music strengthens a person’s ability to memorize or retain information. For example, people listening to music are generally able to recall more of a short list of words or perform simple processing tasks better. How does that translate for seniors facing fears of fading cognition, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease? Music has been shown to slow cognitive decline, and memories associated with music seem to remain bright even for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Although music therapy cannot undo the damage done by those conditions, it has been able to reach patients who have previously been silent. In fact, because music memory is so strong, it can be used to build connections and trust that may pave the way for healing.

Improve Learning

Music stimulates and engages the brain, so it’s an excellent learning tool. Even the promise of being allowed to listen to music as a reward can be enough to prompt better learning. However, the chance to softly sing the new information rhythmically can also be highly effective in helping to improve retention. Alternately, simply having soft music playing in the background can help improve the learning environment.

There are so many ways to include music in your life. You can listen at home, attend shows, or set up a listening party with friends. You can make your own music by singing, learning to play an instrument, or simply humming along. You might even try your hand at songwriting or composing. Whatever your level of interest or skill, sharing music is a great way to connect with other people.
At Springhouse Village, we encourage our residents to explore their interests and offer a wide range of activities and events so that there’s always something interesting happening. We make it easy for our residents to be active participants in our community. Whether that means encouraging residents to join an exercise class or assisting them in starting a garden club, we strive to help our residents thrive. To learn more about the amenities and services we offer, contact Springhouse Village today by sending us a message online or calling 417-708-3403.

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