Guest Post by Kevin Myers, MSPH, Suicide Prevention Program at DPH
Massachusetts native physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes once recommended, “Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.” In today’s world, there are several opportunities to enjoy what Wendell Holmes coined a “music bath” and boost your mental wellness. For example, outdoor concerts and music festivals, sometimes free of charge, allow you to relish the fresh air while you listen to music in the company of others.
The internet is a fantastic setting to explore and listen to new music thanks to free websites such as Pandora, Spotify, Last.fm, and Grooveshark. You can gain exposure to new music that sounds similar to what you already enjoy, share with others what you are listening, and see what your friends are listening to. Let out your creative side by composing music that reflects your mood, joining a local drum circle, or just listen and whistle while you work. One study has demonstrated that you can perform better at your job with background noise, even if it’s not your favorite type of music.
Did you know that music can even trigger autobiographical memories? When you hear a familiar song from your past, your brain can recall memories of a particular person or place. This can be extremely beneficial to those who suffer from memory loss. Music has been used as therapy for centuries. Hippocrates and Aristotle believed in the healing power of music. Music has the power to reduce anxiety and increase relaxation. Research suggests that listening to a certain Mozart sonata can reduce the number of seizures in people who have epilepsy. The positive effects of music in elementary schools include improvement in attentiveness, focus, and interest in learning.
The methods in which we hear music has evolved from the radio to the Internet and from record players to iPods. What has remained constant is the ability to share one generation’s music with another generation. Music can often bridge the generation gap and foster relationships by bonding with older generations about music from their day.
Take some time today to enjoy the music around you!