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The Power of Music

This month, we’re talking about music and the profound effect it can have on our wellbeing. We’ve all probably experienced the euphoria of singing along to a power ballad in the car.


Or maybe we’ve spent a quiet moment with a beautiful piece of classical music on the radio?

Person listening to music.

Either way, many people in our community find that music is a powerful tool that can help us to make friends with our feelings.


Music can help us to navigate the tricky emotional ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of caring. Songs can also soundtrack the good times too. Some of us might find listening to music with the person we care for can evoke fond memories and take us back to good moments in the past.


And let’s not forget that dancing to our favourite songs in the kitchen can keep us active and moving. Or, it might even be worth popping the kettle on, and enjoying a cuppa to the world's most relaxing song!


In this blog, we’ve taken an in-depth look into the science-backed benefits of listening to music. We hope this blog will inspire you to bring more music into your day and perhaps take a moment to revisit some of your favourite songs and artists.


Music’s effect on the mind

Listening to music can bring up a lot of emotions for us. Over the years, scientists have studied the effect that it has on the human brain:


1. It can help us to retain information more efficiently and

improve memory

Music can help with memory and learning. MRI scans show that music engages the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain responsible for processing and retrieving memories. In one study, people were better at recalling information while listening to classical music.


This may be beneficial if we’re caring for people with memory conditions like Alzheimers. While music can’t reverse the disease, some studies suggest that regular listening may slow down the process.


Music can motivate us to learn too. People in one study were more likely to complete a task if they had music as a reward. So next time there’s carer admin to wade through? Have a playlist ready to keep you focussed.


2. It can improve our mood

Listening to music triggers the release of three powerful chemicals: dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These hormones give us a rush of pleasure, support reward and motivation and help us to feel connected to others.


Some people find music therapy beneficial. It’s a type of NHS-approved therapy that uses music to improve mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Music therapy isn’t available for free on the NHS, but you can look for a therapist in your area by going to the website of the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT).


3. It can lower anxiety

Ever felt less anxious after listening to a calming piece of music? Studies have found that music can calm us in anxiety-inducing situations. This could be listening empowering music in our car before going into a tribunal or playing some relaxing acoustic songs when we’ve been on-the-go all day.


Marconi Union’s ‘Weightless’ is a piece of music that was engineered to be the world’s most relaxing song. A fascinating study found that it was just as efficient at calming patients before a major surgery as medication.


It could be a good tool to try if the person we are caring for is agitated or stressed. It could also help us to calm down after dealing with a carer crisis. Next time you have a time-consuming DLA, PIP or Carer’s Allowance form to fill out, why not give listening to this calming track a try.


Why not pop the song on now, while you read this blog?


4. It can improve focus

Got a boring task to do like organising finances or ordering prescriptions? Music can help you focus and get the task done more quickly.


Specifically, studies have found that listening to nature sounds like birdsong or ocean waves can boost our cognitive function and stop us from getting distracted by our phone notifications, Netflix or other pesky distractions.


We could try downloading a nature sound app and listening to it through headphones next time we need to knuckle down. White noise can also our help our brains to relax. The term is used to describe a type of sound that contains every frequencies across the audible sound spectrum.


Listening to the gentle hum (which sounds a bit like rainfall) gives our brains something to focus on instead of the stressful thoughts in our head.


5. It can connect us

Music is a great way to build and strengthen friendships. In an evolutionary sense, scientists believe we may have developed music as a communication tool to bring humans together and encourage tribal bonds.


There are lots of ways we could use music to find connection through carer loneliness. Some of us might like to go to gigs and concerts with friends. Others might sing with a congregation at a place of worship. We may simply like chatting to our friends about new album releases.


Music can also connect us to the person we care for. We may have favourite songs or artists we like to listen to with the person we care for. Perhaps there’s calming music we play on the way to a hospital appointment? Or maybe we start the day with our favourite radio station.


"We have a kitchen disco with our 13 year old daughter. She has complex needs, but when Taylor Swift or Nirvana go on, she stops in her tracks, smiles and gives us great eye contact. It's a real boost for all of us."

6. It can help us to process our emotions

Music can bring back powerful memories - a first date, a first dance at a wedding, or a friend we’ll never forget. Listening to a piece of music from our past can take us back in time. This could be a positive thing. We might remember good times of the past. This can give us a little boost when we’re flagging.


Music may remind us of hard times though. Listening to music that reminds us of someone who has passed away can bring back painful or "happy/sad"memories. It can also trigger flashbacks to traumatic experiences that we may have been through.


In its own special way, music can help us to ‘feel’ and process the emotions we haven’t got the words to say ourselves. When we hear lyrics we can relate to, we allow our emotions to surface so we can understand them.


Listening to sad music can be an intense experience, but psychologists believe it’s an important part of the healing process. Toxic positivity is a type of dysfunctional emotion management where we bury our ‘negative’ feelings and put a happy spin on everything. It can be really common when we’re looking after someone else and feel we need to ‘put on a happy face’ for their sake. In doing this though, we suppress our emotions and may bypass working through them in a healthy way. It's important to feel our feelings.


Journaling alongside music brings up powerful memories. It can be a useful way to vent everything we’re bottling up and move past the pain.


We could try downloading the Reflectly guided journal app if we want to start a daily practice. It's £47.99 per year for a premium account, but the free version of the app is all we need to start a journaling habit. Reflectly lets us attach a 'mood' to each of our journal entries so we can track our wellbeing throughout the moth. If we're short on time, we can record and store the entries as voice notes.


There are also lovely inspirational quotes and affirmations, that we can set the app to send as phone notifications, to keep us feeling inspired and positive throughout the day.

If we're able to, we could set some time aside each day to pop on this reflective Spotify playlist and type our thoughts and feelings onto the app.


We may need support as we revisit painful memories. So, it’s vital we reach out for professional support if there’s past experiences that are affecting our day-to-day life.


The key benefits of listening to music as a carer

Some of our favourite reasons for listening music are:


  • It can provide a distraction from everything else that’s going on

  • It’s a hobby that we can indulge hands-free

  • We can ‘escape’ into our own world when things aren’t great

  • It can boost our confidence (listening to uplifting tracks etc.)

  • We can discover and learn at the same time as caring

  • It can have benefits for the person we care for

  • It can bring some ‘fun’ into our day

  • We can feel seen and understood


How music can benefit specific health conditions


How music helps dementia

Music can be a powerful connector for people with dementia. There are lots of individual stories in our community about how effective music can be at bringing people together and stimulating memories.


Studies have found that music can stimulate parts of the damaged brain in ways that talking cannot. It can also help to reduce feelings of anxiety and agitation which can be common during moments of confusion or forgetfulness.


Plus, music can be a way to entertain and connect with someone with dementia when our words are not understood. This can be a source of joy when we may feel forgotten or lost to the person we love.


How music helps stroke survivors

Studies have found that listening to music for just a couple of hours per day could help stroke survivors improve their memory. It’s thought that listening to songs can encourage neuro-plasticity, where the brain ‘rewires’ broken neural pathways.


It may help to improve hemiparesis, or broken walking patterns, caused by loss of mobility in one side of the body. Music therapy can also alleviate post-stroke depression, which is a common experience for stroke survivors and is often caused by biochemical changes in the brain.


Schizophrenia and music

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental condition that affects thought, emotion, and behaviour. Studies have found that music therapy, involving both listening to and composing songs, can help regulate emotional response, increase verbalisation and decrease anxiety.


How music helps depression and anxiety symptoms

A study found that music therapy plus traditional treatments like antidepressants could have a more beneficial effect on anxiety and depression than pharmaceutical treatment alone.

Classical and other relaxing music may be particularly useful to listen to as it can lower the heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the cortisol stress hormone.



Getting started with music

So now we know why music is important, let’s start prioritising listening to it. Whether it’s putting a song on in the shower, listening to music in the car or investing in a pair of good headphones, there are lots of ways we can fit music into our busy lives.


Listen to our Mobilise playlist

Not sure where to start? Carers in the Mobilise Community have created a playlist ‘Songs that make me smile’. Hopefully, it will put a smile on your face too!


We can easily create our own playlists, whether that’s on YouTube, Spotify or Apple music. Different songs for different moments.


“I have a playlist for cleaning - lots of fun, upbeat songs from my youth - really gives me energy”

How to listen to music on any budget

Music streaming services have made it easier than ever to access the music we love. We can download these players to our laptops or smartphones to listen in the house or on-the-go. Some of our favourite digital services are:


  • Spotify - anyone can access a free version with ads. A premium subscription costs £9.99 but we can also opt for a family package (£16.99) that covers up to 6 people.

  • Apple Music - paid subscription only, £10.99 per month, with a one month free trial.

  • Tidal - paid subscription only, £9.99 per month

  • YouTube - is a great place to listen to music for free, although there are adverts if you have a free account. We like the playlist feature, which allows you to line-up videos and listen to them one after the other.


With the rising cost of living making money more of an issue, we may not have the budget for a smartphone and monthly streaming subscription (and that’s OK!). There are so many brilliant radio stations to discover. We could treat ourselves to a new radio or even pick up a second-hand CD or record player and hunt through charity shops for CDs and vinyls.


Different stations can work for our different moods. We like listening to Magic FM when we’re looking for upbeat songs while Smooth Radio is great for relaxing after a busy day. Plus, there are lots of music channels too that our TV package might include.



How to make a playlist for dementia


Playlists can be really helpful for those with degenerative brain conditions. To help us get started, BBC Music Memories has a free tool where we can discover popular tracks from specific decades to help us build a playlist.


Playlist For Life is another really good resource for building our own personal dementia playlist that evokes memories and emotion. They take us through the process step-by-step, so we can select popular songs that will likely be recognisable to the person we care for. They also have lots of pre-built Spotify playlists specifically for dementia patients that are categorised by genres, decades and identities.


Some of our favourite playlists for carers

If busy and don’t have lots of time to organise our own music, try these Spotify playlists for an easy pick-me-up:


A final word

Like walking, stretching, meditating and being in nature, music is a free tool that we can all use to improve our wellbeing. As this blog post proves, it can be a great way to influence our mood, provide sensory feedback, evoke memories and create connections with the people we love.


Have you got a favourite music memory? Make sure to share it in the Mobilise Community as we’d love to hear from you.


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2件のコメント


mitchell maurice
mitchell maurice
2 days ago

geometry dash online offers an exhilarating blend of rhythm-based gameplay, challenging levels, and a creative community. With its unique combination of music and platforming, it provides endless entertainment and a test of skill for players of all levels.

いいね!

elizabethmoore
2023年2月28日

Is it just me? I don't find Marconi Union's 'Weightless' either calming or relaxing - just boring. I think I gave it long enough - played 10 minutes of the 10 hour version!!

いいね!
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