Total health includes mind, body and spirit.
At The Terraces at Bonita Springs, we value music’s ability to bring people together. This past year, we invited residents and community members to participate in musical performances from The Bay Singers, Mark Llewellyn Evan, Jennifer “Golden Note” Gilmore and violinist Doug Cameron and Family, to name a few.
We acknowledge the value and the many benefits of music in reducing stress, elevating mood, improving cognitive function and easing pain.
Excessive stress, if left untreated, can contribute to anxiety and illness. Research suggests that listening to soothing music, like classical music, can decrease blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels.
What makes music so powerful? Soothing music triggers biochemical stress reducers and can decrease levels cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body.
Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
A 2013 study found that music put people in a better mood and helped them get in touch with their feelings. Study participants rated “mood regulation” and “self-awareness” as the two most important benefits of listening to music.
Improves Cognitive Performance
Music can help you learn and recall information better, but it depends on how much you like the music and whether or not you’re a musician. It’s never too late to start learning an instrument to keep you on top of your game.
A study with healthy older adults found that those with 10 or more years of musical experience scored higher on cognitive tests than musicians with one to nine years of musical study. The non-musicians scored the lowest. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,” says lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, assistant professor in neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.
For non–musicians, Dr. Laura Mosqueda, director of geriatrics at the University of California at the Irvine School of Medicine, explains that because music affects so many areas of the brain, it stimulates pathways that may still be healthy.
Music can meaningfully reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care or palliative medicine. Listening to joyful music can increase blood flow. It can also be an effective distraction from pain and reduce fatigue.
Research at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced pain more than standard treatments in cancer patients. Other research showed that music can decrease pain in intensive care patients and geriatric care patients, but the selection needed to be classical pieces, meditative music or songs of the patient’s choosing.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Music
The psychological benefits of music are proven by science and can help make a bad day a little better. Consider adding music to your daily routine to elevate your mood and keep your mind active.