This past year was one of self-reflection, reorientation and grounding. It was a time to step back and adapt as we all faced the ongoing and evolving difficulties of the pandemic. In the absence of in-person concerts and events, we have learned that, now more than ever, shared experiences involving music and the arts are essential to maintaining and enhancing our wellbeing.
Particularly at times of stress, we might feel that dedicating time to watch a concert or listen to a full album might be a time-waster – we could instead tick off the boxes of day-to-day chores and tasks. However, taking this time to unwind with music can have a multitude of benefits in the long-term. Science-based studies confirm the neurological impacts of music and its benefits to our health and wellbeing.
We know through research that music can contribute to the relief of stress and anxiety while also showing promise as a pain management tool. Exposure to and participation in music may also support strengthening of the immune system and improvement of memory function. Research shows that listening to music, singing and learning to play an instrument were proven to affect all these areas because of the direct engagement of certain neuro-pathways and cognitive areas in our brain, which then react with positive stimulus and release.
There is also a clear emotional affect that stems from music, one that soothes especially during difficult or strenuous times. The practice of music therapy has been gaining momentum to directly support mental and emotional development. Music has proven to be a positive therapeutic outlet that can allow address the difficult emotions one may be feeling without having to express them in words. It also serves to improve sociability, cognitive functions and overall mental health. A more in-depth look can be found in this article from the Canadian Association of Music Therapists:
The magic that we feel from music has a very tangible effect in our day-to-day experience, one that should be embraced. Sharing in music with others can amplify these positive effects, which is one reason that staying connected with musical communities can be so meaningful. Music is an important tool that can assist us in maintaining the peace and wellbeing of our inner selves.
Blog by Gabriel Leon-Reyes, Mohawk College Public Relations Intern