As we approach International Self-Care Day, we have the opportunity to step back, check in with ourselves, and listen to what our mind, body, and spirit might need. Taking place on July 24th each year, the date symbolizes the long-lasting benefits that self-care can have for our well-being: 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
As a recently certified music therapist, I have witnessed the benefits that music can have on an individual’s journey towards personal growth, including my own. Music is an extremely powerful and accessible tool, and can be easily integrated into self-care practice. Drawing from both research and personal experience, here are 4 simple ways you can use music for self-care today:
1. Listening to Music
Listening to familiar and comforting music releases dopamine in the brain, causing the mind to feel instantly lighter. Research has found that listening to music not only has the potential to improve mood but can reduce stress responses before and after completing a stressful task. With this in mind, music can be intentionally integrated into a daily routine as both a stimulant and relaxant, helping us to regulate our nervous systems and set the “tone” for the day.
2. Moving to Music
Music has a unique and powerful ability to connect our minds to our bodies. When we hear the catchy beat of our favourite song, our body can often respond spontaneously with toe-tapping, swaying, and bouncing – without even realizing it. Music motivates us to move in beneficial ways, including working out, walking, completing chores around the house, and of course – dancing! These actions lead to the release of endorphins and dopamine, improving our mood and contributing to our self-care.
3. Making Music
Don’t be intimidated! Even if you are not a trained musician, you can still benefit from making music, including singing, playing an instrument (yes, pots and pans count as instruments), and learning new instruments. The act of making music not only enhances brain activity and creativity, but can be highly rewarding, improving self-esteem and confidence. Furthermore, making music with others can increase feelings of social connection. So take this opportunity to pick up that instrument you’ve always wanted to learn, and play!
4. Embracing the Silence
A final way to use music as self-care is to embrace the silence. Although perhaps counter-intuitive, music cannot exist without silence, just as productivity cannot exist without rest. Mindfulness is a widely accepted practice in mental health and has proven to be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety. Today, take a moment to pause, look around, and notice the natural music that the world has to offer.
For this year’s International Self-Care Day, I hope you find opportunities to rest, create, move, and listen to music in a way that compliments your self-care practice and nurtures your well-being.
– Emma Rose, MTA
Global Council on Brain Health (2020). Music on our minds: The rich potential of music to promote brain health and mental well-being.
International Self-Care Foundation (n.d.). International self-care day.
National Institute of Mental Health (n.d.). Caring for your mental health.
Psychology Today (n.d.). Mindfulness.
Thoma, M. V., La Marca, R., Brönnimann, R., Finkel, L., Ehlert, U., & Nater, U. M. (2013). The effect of music on the human stress response.