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4 Reasons Music Should be Your Drug of Choice in 2018

There are side effects and costs to using drugs, and depending on your specific bio-makeup the drugs’ effects can be positive or negative to your health and well-being. As discussed last month, music is no different – except for one very important distinction: Music can be turned off or changed in an instant. This single mechanism can take someone from feeling painfully overwhelmed to wonderful, within seconds. Feelings are at the root of every drug (or music) choice we make. Here are some of the reasons people say they use drugs:

  • To escape or relax
  • To alleviate pain
  • To elevate an experience
  • To heighten creativity and focus

I am sure there are many more but even this short list seems completely reasonable to me. We ALL want to feel good. But maybe there is an alternative way of achieving those same feelings – one with longer, sustainable positive outcomes – MUSIC! Plus music has great side effects and it rarely gets you into trouble or gets you pulled over for distracted driving (unless you are doing your own version of carpool karaoke).

Here are just four of the many reasons to make music your drug of choice in 2018:

1. Music builds brains

A psychiatrist I work with said, “you know why I love your profession, because your music can help build brains”. When I first let this really sink in my entire career took on an even deeper meaning. Over the past decade, there has been increasing evidence describing the cognitive and brain effects of making music, regardless of your age. Because music making involves a combination of sensory and motor functions the research shows that it can make improvements in cognitive development.

2. Music dulls pain

Music can help reduce chronic pain due to the fact that people find it so pleasurable. Previous studies have only focused on acute pain but a newer study found that fibromyalgia patients experienced less chronic pain after listening to their favourite music. The participants reported that the pain became less unpleasant and less intense. The researcher concluded their report by stating that, “for people who suffer from a disease that causes chronic pain, the greatest problem is all the medicines they are forced to take….it’s bad, because it can cause stomach upset, and can be addictive.” If music can relieve pain so the person requires lower doses of pain medication, this can only help improve the patient’s quality of life and overall health.

3. Music boosts mood

Like sex, drugs and food, music is known to boost mood. We have learned that people in good moods perform better on all sorts of cognitive tests. Researchers in 2011 were the first to learn the role music had on our feel-good hormone, dopamine. Their findings lead to a more significant conclusion that has now been more carefully studied. It seems humans crave pleasure from listening to music and that the positive feelings they associate with music are inextricably linked to their deepest reward centres. Imagine all the ways we can leverage that finding.

4. Music heightens your focus and creativity

Silence may be better for certain tasks that involve language and complex logical thinking, but for executing a repetitive task or tiny details (like brain surgery), focus becomes increasingly important and music can help you stay vigilant. Some studies show the benefits of music in the operating room, including one that found surgeons work more efficiently while listening to their favourite music. One surgeon explained that music is his constant during the controlled chaos of brain surgery. The melodies soothe his nerves while keeping him focused on the important task at hand.

Perhaps music can be added to our list of ‘healthy addictions’ we can depend on, and may be a strong candidate for your drug of choice, this year and for many years to come. For support with this please contact us at JB Music Therapy, where music is definitely something we are hooked on.