Music Therapy and Stress Management for the Active Individual
Many things have advanced over the past one hundred years in the worlds of science and medicine that we all benefit from today. Those who are health-minded watch the fat and empty calories they put in their bodies along with ensuring that a lot of wholesome foods go in. Balance is key.
Some people go beyond this and add a solid exercise routine into their days. Some even go a step farther. They want a total package of well-being: body, soul, and spirit. One way people are adding all-around wellness into their personal lives is through music therapy.
Music therapy is defined as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program,” by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
The AMTA keeps a journal of its work and maintains an extensive amount of literature regarding music therapy and its effectiveness. Music therapy has only recently become an accepted form of therapy for patients to help alleviate chronic aches and pains.
Research associated with music therapy shows that stimulating music actually increases the muscle tension, lending reason to why people might be able to take chest presses more easily while listening to upbeat, fast music rather than slow ballads. A few studies also claim that music also has close links with stimulating motor functions.
Music Therapy Isn’t Just for the Sick Anymore
Today, athletes and others who are physically use active music therapy as a form of stress management and a way to calm the mind. On the flip side, people have cranked up the rock music to speed up their minds and bodies in order to get “pumped up” and to release aggression.
The medical world now understands that soft rock and classical music have their uses, too. It is not only hard rock that can raise the pulse and brain activity. For example, some people are calmed by the low, steady thrum of a drum beat, like in Native American or Celtic music, and people should listen to what makes them feel at ease.
Music is a multi-level therapy; it aids in shifting people into a better mood. Experts believe this may because a baby in the womb is influenced by the rhythm of his mother’s heart beating. They believe that we subconsciously remember it and feel safe and secure upon hearing a certain tempo of music.
What is said to be happening is that the hemispheres of the right and left sides of the brain are synchronizing. Waveforms, or sound waves, have a major impact on brain waves, smoothing or leveling them. It is thought this is one of the reasons certain levels of pain decrease when a guitar or other instrument is strummed or played live: the body is absorbing the sound waves and the central nervous system and energy center are equalizing.
One of the first things that naturally takes place as relaxation begins is deep breathing. Next, serotonin production increases. This may be one of the reasons people like play music in the background as they are working around the house. Relaxation comes as the heart rate slows down and the body temperature is elevated.
This means music therapy promotes good stress management. Combining relaxation therapy with it maximizes the effect.
The Psychology of the Music and Stress
Using music to manage your stress is not an activity for the faint at heart. You have to ask questions of yourself that speak to your fitness goals and lifestyle goals. Do you need a way to calm down right after lifting? Do you need to decompress in the car on the way home? Do you need a way to zone out before a competition?
If bodybuilding is your life then you need music that avoids your sensitivities. Your body is highly attuned to even the smallest stimuli. Because of this you can be easily triggered and you need to know what you’re listening to.
Music that is slow and overly emotional for you isn’t going to help calm you just because it is “pretty”. You live in a world where you take in far too many stimuli, and you need to tease yourself into a quiet place.
Minimalists like Philip Glass, Classicists such as Mozart, and Impressionists like Debussy can keep you quiet really easily. Each composer produced music that is benign and easy to listen to.
If you need a calming influence on the way home from the gym you can allow yourself to be bombarded with sound. This is the time to allow bands like The Beatles and composers like Bartok or Barber to give you a little something to listen to without giving you a headache.
If you need to come down off the high of lifting you may want to keep the earbuds in your ears at the gym. Have a seat after slamming 50 military presses and hit the oldies. Catchy tunes and simple lyrics might have you dancing at the gym, but that’s far better than having your heart beating out of your chest because you can’t calm down.
Think about what you’re doing before you do it. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with using the same music over and over. If it gets the job done then you win! If listening to a Beethoven sonata isn’t doing the trick then you need to make a change.
Maybe you play an instrument and the best way for you to relax is playing. Sit down outside the gym with your guitar. Actually playing an instrument can revitalize you even more than merely listening (and you might make a few bucks in tips)!
You can even listen while you’re reading SteroidsLive.com. Sometimes music will help clear your thoughts as you read up on the best ways to get in shape and get bigger. Every little bit helps.
Other Ideas for Utilizing Music Therapy
- Use music therapy with relaxation therapy while having a massage. Put some music on quietly in the background or use an iPod. Add dim light and some soft incense and you’re off.
- Use music therapy while soaking in the tub. Do this for at least 20 minutes and make sure the water isn’t too hot. Again combine aromatherapy with a dimly lit room for full effectiveness.
- Take a stroll listening to music through headphones. Breathe rhythmically to the beat.
- Concentrate on the down beats to avoid distraction when working.
If you are wanting to relax, choose a tempo under 72 beats per minute, as this is the average heart rate. Music therapy is beneficial when you want some extra energy, too. In this case you would want something with a faster rhythm.
Music Therapy Is Ideal for the Athlete
What this means to the physically active and athletic is that they can double their benefits with music therapy by enhancing both the workout routine and the cool down. In case you haven’t already applied this strategy, the following suggestions may benefit your exercise pattern.
For energy and inspiration, play something that is driving and gets you enthusiastic about life. The endorphins will kick in quickly. Be sure, however, to bring the energy way down as you finish. During the cool down, change your music to something soothing. Slow, deep breaths will help get the oxygen to the muscles and help them relax. You should notice the difference right away if you employ music therapy to your routine.
When stress levels begin to rise and you are under pressure, make it a point to take 20 minutes to yourself and engage in a little music therapy. The more you allow yourself this, the more it will become like second nature. Consistent music therapy will keep your stress levels under control and help you manage your daily tasks with less mental exertion.
Varying your music is important. That song that keeps you motivated while running on the treadmill may not help you maintain your pace and form during your weightlifting. Choosing your music is an important part of any workout.
Music should enhance your workout, not hinder it. Avoid playing music so loudly that you fail to notice the stress your workout puts on your own physique. If the music playing in your ears hinders your senses, it is important to take note of how your body is responding to the intensity and strain. Music should not be used to block out the pain of a workout.
Using music to enhance your workout will help your body perform better. This, along with a healthy balance of diet and exercise, will keep you ready for whatever comes your way. With frequent use, music therapy may enrich your life. You may be already benefiting and didn’t realize it. If not, give it a try. Don’t skip a beat!