The Power of Music

I’m always on the lookout for tools that will improve my life – tools that are low-cost or free, legal, and don’t screw up my diet. (If you’re wondering what I mean by that last criteria, perhaps you’re more evolved than me and don’t give in to misdemeanor escapes like gooey chocolate cake that solves nothing and, in fact, leaves you feeling much worse in general. But I digress.)

Whenever I need to improve my well-being, music does the trick.

If I’m feeling anxious, Vivaldi can cut through the core of my stress to realign all my cells into quiet submission. The worries of the world fall away upon the floating notes of Mozart or Chopin. And, if I’m feeling low-energy and generally blah, the Rolling Stones can kick my psyche into high gear. I feel rejuvenated when a driving beat gets me off my butt and dancing.

Music can be a panacea for what ails you, whether it’s a low point in your day or the funk that follows the demise of a relationship. Here are some of the ways music may help you shift your mood and links to the kind of music that works for me:

Music as Medicine

Soft music has been used for generations to soothe preemies (and their parents) in neonatal intensive care units, improving the infants’ sleeping and eating patterns, and decreasing parents’ stress. Did you know there is an entire music therapy movement that psychologists use to help patients deal with pain, depression and even Parkinson’s disease?  In some situations, Medicare and Medicaid actually reimburse for music therapy.

When I’m not feeling well I let the strains of Bach’s Cantata, BWV 147, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or Chopin’s  Waltz no. 7 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 64 no. 2 lull me into healing rest or sleep.

Music as Rejuvenator

Music excites and activates the body. People use it to perk themselves up when the monotony of driving almost puts them to sleep or when the boredom of repetitive tasks like house cleaning tempt them to opt for a nap instead. Whether you’ve packed three work days into one or need to rally the troops into action, music is an inexpensive and safe way to proceed.

Music can move me into high gear during those times when inertia keeps me glued to the couch. I choose music like Pharrell Williams’ Happy and Justin Timberlake’s mostly clean version of Sexy Back.

Music as Comforter

Instead of a pain pill or antidepressant, pop a soothing tune to transport yourself from restlessness and anxiety to serenity. The power of music can remind us that life is simple, that we are enough, and to not sweat the small stuff. Most people are aware of the power of music to calm nerves and ease away the day’s tensions.

Personally, when I’m feeling the need to relax quickly, I’m inclined again toward classical music. Tunes like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Yo Yo Ma playing Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G Major always provide comfort.

Music works for me. It’s non-fattening, socially acceptable, and virtually free. I am filled with gratitude for the gift of music in my life.

What about you?

Have you ever used music to transport yourself, to change your mood or expand your view of the world at any given time? I’d love to hear of examples that worked for you.