DIY Health: Music As Medicine

Posted: December 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I was confronted with the uncomfortable task of talking to a family member about a touchy subject. Before the conversation I serendipitously picked up my ukulele and began to strum.  For some unexplainable reason my anxiety lessened in a very noticeable and immediate way. Today, amidst the awkward tension of the family Christmas celebration, my cousin sang a song as her gift to us all. The soft beauty of her voice gave us all an unanticipated feeling of calm. What is it about music that has the power to alter our moods?

I just came across an article on this very thing. The article highlights fascinating research about how music can boost immune levels, decrease anxiety and enhance memory, among other things.  We all seem to know intuitively that music is a worthy medicine. We often choose our music based on how we want it to affect our mood, or as a means of helping us fall asleep… or wake up! Dance music can increase our brain function and productivity, which is why I tend to blast a good 90’s dance mix before I attempt to clean my room.

Dancing is another therapeutic ally. I briefly lived in West Virginia, where I was once told by a close friend of mine that every time he was depressed as a teenager his mother would make him go contra dancing. “Works every time,” he told me.  The aerobic exercise and energetic release of dancing is a sure way to beat depression and sickness. When we dance we are in autonomous control of our movements, listening only to the request of our flailing bodies as they shift us effortlessly into different shapes and angles. This not only releases stored up energy that would otherwise be converted into anxiety, but it also gently massages and loosens our muscles.  So next time you need to “loosen up,”  pump up the tunes and hit the dance floor. And if you live in Gainesville, call me first!

Check out the article on the therapeutic effects of music here.


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