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Reducing stress with music

Most people enjoy music, in one form or another. There are radio stations across the world, including here in Wales, which broadcast hardly anything else, some of them specialising in specific types of music, classical for example. A surprising number of people play or sing, with choirs, orchestras, rock and pop bands, ukulele clubs, and many other groups, or even in the shower, all on their own!

What is often not considered is how good music and song is for our well-being, particularly when we join with others. Take a look on the internet, and you'll find lots of evidence for how music improves and supports health, particularly, but not only, mental and emotional health (have you seen a runner, jogger or gym bunny recently who hasn't had their earphones in place?). Look at this comment, from a music website :

"Stress and anxiety? Try turning to music. Music can quickly shift our mood, affecting our subconscious mind where negative thoughts feed on our fears and fuel the fires of stress."

Here are some ideas, also from the web, to make music a part of your daily routine.

1. Starting Out Right Rise with Music

Try waking to a familiar piece of music that eases you into the day like a beautiful sunrise, or a lovers caress, and starts you out in a good mood.

2. Daily Medicine Sing with Music

Singing is one of the best ways to slow and regulate breathing and promote relaxation. Sing in the shower; sing in the car; hum a lullaby before you go to sleep. You can sing a capella,or to a recording.

3. Instrumental Moments Play with Music

Playing music is like a mega-vitamin, engaging more areas of the human brain than any other activity. Musics ability to help us shift thought patterns and moods, and even improve our physical well-being, is quite remarkable. Whether you are a well-versed musician or just beginning to learn how to play an instrument, spend a few minutes in the morning playing music.

4. Emotion in Motion Move with Music

If you have a daily exercise routine, try taking music along with you. A morning walk or run, or even yoga or stretching, can become easier and more enjoyable if you have music as your personal coach and companion.

5. Active Listening Tune In with Music

There is more than one way to listen to music. We can let it play in the background, or we can become actively involved in the listening process. Active Listeningis a more powerful process for transforming our thoughts and emotions, requiring your full and undivided attention. Eliminate any distractions, choose a slower piece of music, close your eyes, slow down your breathing, and tune into something inside the music which you can follow—like the melody or a particular instrument.

6. Happy Hour Recline with Music

Try making music part of your end-of-day unwinding ritual. Let the music do the work. Try lying down with some headphones. Allow the sound to move through you and simply let go—of your thoughts, of your day, of your stress.

7. Getting In Sync Unite with Music

Playing music with others in a caring and supportive environment can be a great way to channel pepped up energy from frustration or stress. Join a drum circle or local choir or band, or play music with friends or family members at home. Remember to “play.” There is a kind of shorthand communication that can take place when people play music or sing together. Performing in a group can be a great outlet to alleviate stress and break the patterns of the day.

That last one is where the Shed Heads come in. There are a few of us who enjoy playing and singing together, and we've even performed in public once or twice, but only for fun! We follow the internet advice that "the key to playing music for fun and relaxation is to be sure all the participants agree that the main purpose is for everyone to enjoy themselves and the music making process, so there is no competition or fear of being judged".

Here are a few thoughts about music from other people - musicians, philosophers, artists and others.

"Music washes from the soul the dust of everyday life"

(Frank Auerbach) ARTIST

"Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears; it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ears"

(Oliver Sacks) PSYCHIATRIST

"Music can change the world because it can change people"

(Bono) MUSICIAN

"He who sings scares away his woes"

(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) 17th Century Spanish writer

"Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life"

(Jean Paul Richter) 19th Century German writer

"One good thing about music.........when it hits you, you feel no pain"

(Bob Marley) Jamaican musician

"The healing power of music is vast.......With a simple song and four chords, you might be able to do something useful, even life-changing"

(Gary Talley) Singer/songwriter

"Without music, life is a journey through a desert"

(Pat Conroy) American author

Stressed? You can do something about it!

Article by Les Jones