Music is Good for the Soul

By: Betty Nufer, Mental Wellness Program- Pueblo Area Director

Originally published in: The Pueblo Chieftain

I’m not generally a Johnny Depp fan but he did say something that strongly resonated with me. “Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.”

I listen to music, on the average, of about seven to eight hours a day. I find that music can give me a lift if I’m feeling down, soothe me if I’m anxious and invigorate me when I have lots to do.

There has been music since the beginning of time. There are reports that cave men made musical instruments out of old bones and a reference to music is found in the Bible…”make a joyful noise.”

Music allows us to feel nearly, or possibly, all emotions that we experience in our lives. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

The benefits of music starts in childhood and some say even before birth. Music helps in the formation of important brain connections during the first three years of life and it seems all children have a natural love of, and a desire, to sing and dance. Our darling two-year-old granddaughter has Alexa playing “Wheels on the Bus” and “Baby Shark” pretty much all day. (Yes, all day!”)

Just as music can have positive effects on children, it can also be beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests that musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease. Listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits to those with Alzheimer’s disease. I personally witnessed the benefits of music when working with these beautiful people years ago. Music was a type of therapy that calmed and reduced agitation while reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Listening to music from the 40’s often led to toe-tapping and shoulder-swaying.

Music can also be used in mental health therapy. According to the American MusicTherapy Association, there is clinical and evidence-based use of musical interventions to accomplish individualized goals in counseling and therapy. Music used in conjunction with counseling can.

· Promote Wellness

· Manage Stress

· Alleviate Pain

· Express Feelings

· Enhance Memory

· Improve Communication

· Promote Physical Rehabilitation

As you can see, there are life-long benefits of music. When we listen to music, it triggers parts of our brain that evoke emotions and memories. It is interesting that one can hear a song from decades ago and be brought back to that very time in an instant. The song “Red Rubber Ball” brings me back to summer of 1971 at the pool. I can actually feel the sunshine, smell the chlorine, and experience that time of my youth. There is actually a name for this called “associative memories”.

Music can definitely improve and enhance our lives. It’s simple to access and free, unless you want to purchase a music program. And interestingly, it has much of the same efficacy as a medication we may take. Abigail Washburn, a musician, says it best, “I really believe in the power of music.”

Betty Nufer is the Pueblo Area Director for the Mental Wellness Program, powered by Spark the Change Colorado. For more information about the program you can visit our website, contact Betty at bnufer@sparkthechangecolorado.org or call 719-821-2982, or call our statewide client intake line at 844-380-6355.

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