February 20, 2011

Music Keeps Me Alive by Patrick Rabanal

            Music has been a part of the lives of most cultures in the world. It has been used for different rituals and celebrations, or even just for entertainment and for the “arts”. Now let us take a look at the benefits of music.

           Have you ever heard the saying, “Music soothes the savage beast”? It is true. Music can help us feel calm and revitalized in ways that even sleeping or taking a nap can’t. Music holds the power to either promote or even change our moods. It can bring back memories, both good and bad, and trigger strong feelings.

            Studies have found that music can provide an immediate biological and psychological benefit for everyone. Many may even turn to music when faced with most psychological challenges. Have you ever found yourself singing in the shower or while driving the car? Some may listen to music to inspire or distract themselves from real life. I know I have. I usually sing in the shower or in the car because it is a time when I am alone which makes me reflect and think about life. I guess singing just helps me release some of the emotions I have been hiding. It just seems to make me feel better.
            Does music really help one get over bad times? In a previous study, Thayer, et al.(1994), tried to look into how people change their bad moods, raise energy, or reduce tension. They used questionnaires to find out which behaviors people most often used to change their mood. From their 308 respondents, 47% reported listening to music, coming after talking with someone (54%) and controlling own thoughts like thinking positively (51%).There are moments in our life when we feel sad and lonely and it seems like we can’t find anybody to talk to. Also there are times when positive thinking just doesn’t cut it. So what should we do? With the technology today, with our cellphones, ipods, and mp3 players, music has become very accessible to us and even without these we can even just sing acapela.

            Music has been overlooked about its therapeutic relevance. Some studies have even found that its benefits in the medical scene (Kemper & Danhauer, 2005). It has helped promote the patients well being and even distract them from unpleasant symptoms. It also helps improve mood and decrease anxiety which is very useful for those who would undergo surgery and other medical procedures.

            Now we know that music can help alter mood, but can mood alter our preference for music. Whenever I feel sad, I usually listen to slower songs, or those that people may call emo but when I’m happy, I listen to more upbeat songs. In a study by Chen et al.,(2007). They noticed that people with a sad mood tend to listen to songs that have been categorized as sad songs as compared to those with neutral or normal mood.

           Putting more music in your life is a powerfully enriching tool. Music can be entertaining, bring back memories, trigger strong feelings, distract, and comfort. If you feel sad and have no one to talk to try listening to your favorite songs and when you feel that life seems so boring, try looking for music that you really like and put more color into your world.

Chen, L., Zhou, S., & Bryant, J. (2007). Temporal Changes in Mood Repair Through Music Consumption: Effects of Mood, Mood Salience, and Individual Differences. Conference Papers -- International Communication Association, 1.

Kemper, K. J., & Danhauer, S. C. (2005). Music as Therapy. Southern Medical Journal, 98(3), 282-288.

Thayer, R. E., Newman, J., & McClain, T. M. (1994). Self-Regulation of Mood: Strategies for Changing a Bad Mood, Raising Energy, and Reducing Tension. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 67(5), 910-925.

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