I used to be a musician who practiced 3 to 4 hours a day. But while raising my daughter, I could never find time to practice, and I slowly let her musical choices rule the household. First it was perky kid tunes, then Disney musicals, and now girl-power rock. I slowly let my CDs move to the back of the shelf, gave up singing and playing piano, and even sold my harp. I was too busy “adulting” and trying to please my daughter to notice I had let my investment in music slip away—and with it, a piece of my soul.
The 19th-century Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, wrote “Where words fail, music speaks.” Music has the power to conjure up every possible emotion. It can take us soaring to unimaginable heights, console us in our grief or loneliness, help us release our anger or frustration in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone, get our bodies moving, and bring peace and calm to our hearts. Music also has the power to improve our health and well-being, which simply increases its awesomeness. It can
- boost your immune system by increasing levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A,
- lower your cortisol (stress hormone) levels,
- help decrease depression through targeted music therapy,
- lower pain levels in some people,
- help with certain neurological conditions by reactivating speech centers of the brain, and
- improve the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
If you’re curious about other health benefits of listening to music, check out the article link in our Facebook post from February 8 for a list of 20 ways music can help your mental and physical health.
In creating my WRAP and building my wellness toolbox, I thought a lot about what brings me happiness, what I need to feel mentally balanced, and what is required for me to feel that my life has purpose and meaning. Two common denominators were playing music and listening to music—two things I gave up when I became a single mom. So, in my quest toward wellness, I have dusted off the piano keys, pulled out my old song books, set up my CD collection in my home office, and immersed myself in music for at least an hour a day.
I cannot explain in words the difference this simple change has made (I’d need a spectacular jazz riff or power ballad to do it justice). I am grateful to WRAP for giving me the motivation to rediscover and return to my passion. I’m smiling more, I have more hope, I’m less stressed and cranky (which is a plus for everyone!), and I feel like I’m part of something bigger than my small world. In the words of German poet and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Maybe it wouldn’t be a mistake to you, but it certainly would be to me.
Music is an important tool in my mood management plan—it’s something that brings me great joy. What song or type of music gives you back your mojo when you feel down or helps you calm down after a hard time? Has listening to or playing music ever helped you during a hard time? Let us know by commenting on Facebook, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will share some of your stories and ideas in future articles.