Easing Menopause Symptoms With Music Therapy
Have you ever been in the grocery store, and your favorite song comes over the speakers? For a brief moment, does everything seem a little bit better? Or maybe you start belting out the lyrics in the car, and the traffic doesn’t seem so bad anymore? You’ve probably heard that “music is medicine.” Music can be a powerful therapy, capable of improving well-being and reducing many symptoms, such as those associated with menopause.
What is music therapy?
Music therapy is the clinical use of music as an intervention to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of an individual or group. It’s an evidence-based approach proven to reduce stress, minimize pain, and improve overall wellness. It can take many forms and can be customized to meet individualized goals.
What happens in music therapy?
Formal music therapy exists in sessions with a trained professional therapist. First, the therapist will assess your needs. Your experience with music, as well as your personal preferences, will be taken into account.
Depending on each person’s unique goals, a music therapy session could include the following:
- Listening to music
- Playing instruments/creating music
- Discussing music
- Moving to/dancing to music
Music Therapy’s Effect on the Brain
Science has proven that music releases mood-enhancing chemicals into our bodies which music therapists can capitalize on to aid in the medical treatment of patients. Our brains use the same pathways to process pain as they do music. Simply listening to music can reduce the level of cortisol (stress hormone), a good thing for women who often feel stressed out. Additionally, research has found that levels of dopamine (“the feel-good hormone”) increase when we listen to music we enjoy. Music therapy is also a powerful tool to enhance neuroplasticity in the brain. A 2003 study compared the plasticity of musicians’ brains to non-musicians brains and found that several areas in the frontal cortex were more developed in musicians’ brains.
Music Therapy for Menopause Symptom Relief
Among the varied symptoms of menopause and perimenopause are mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Listening to music has been shown to reduce depression levels in postmenopausal women. Another study found that listening to music can decrease feelings of irritability and lessen hot flashes associated with menopause. While these studies were small and more research is necessary, there is certainly no harm in trying music therapy for menopause symptom relief.
Other Benefits of Music Therapy
- Provides an outlet to express feelings
- Boosts creativity
- Improves immune system function
- Develops coping strategies
- Develops relaxation skills
- Improves self-esteem
- Reduces muscle tension
While you might be more likely to maximize the benefits alongside a therapist, you can still reap the benefits of music therapy on your own with these tips.
- Create a playlist of songs you like, especially those that make you happy. Be sure to include songs that make you want to move your body!
- Practice mindful listening. Find a quiet, relaxing space to do nothing other than listening. Close your eyes and focus on each sound. Notice the different instruments or voices, the tone, and the shifts in volume.
- Reflect. Write down how the music makes you feel. What emotions come to the surface? Where do you feel the music in your body?
- Explore new music. We all have our musical preferences. While it’s good to have our “go-to’s,” don’t forget there’s endless music available to us. Step outside what’s familiar to you and try something new.
- Attend some live music. It’s hard to beat an in-person music experience. Not only does it sound better, but your body may respond in a way that may surprise you. Concerts are collective experiences, and those alone are known to improve our mood.
Music therapy is a miraculous gift for many. It has the ability to change our brain, which then changes our body’s physical response, all without the use of medication. Music therapy is a holistic option to manage your well-being and menopause symptoms and is accessible to anyone.
Brianna Litchfield is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness. She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology.
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