Courage Curation: Using Music to Endure Discomfort

Music has the ability to change your mood, set the tone in a room and even create suspense, humor or sadness in a film. But beyond all the emotional power of music, did you know that it can actually improve your health and well-being? And it goes way beyond reducing stress and improving your workouts!

Simply listening to uplifting music can help ease hospital patients perceived pain according to this study*. The benefits of music on health range from helping cancer patients manage stress and anxiety, to aiding the recovery of stroke patients. Researchers in Finland determined that stroke patients who listened to music had improved attention and verbal memory. They also had a more positive outlook compared to patients who didn’t listen to music.

In addition to easing perceived physical pain, music can also help you keep a positive mental outlook when you may be prone to bouts of depression. Be careful with this one though, the type of music makes all the difference! Classical, uplifting music can work wonders, while heavy metal and techno risk making depression worse.

On a personal level, I recently braved a wide awake double wisdom tooth extraction. Granted there was nitrous and novicane to manage the pain, but my greatest concern were the noises I would hear as they pulled the teeth! Not to mention, I have a terrible fear of any sort of surgery and a low pain tolerance… Knowing that music has been proven to relax patients before surgery, our music supervisor at Made Music Studio armed me with a calming playlist. I hit play while sitting in the waiting room and, as soon as the surgery began, I jacked up the volume and let the music be my focus.

After the fact, I can confidently say that the calming playlist did the trick. I felt more at ease and was attuned to something other than the unpleasant procedure, feelings and noises I was experiencing.

There are many studies on the proven benefits and the power of music when it comes to our health. Eased pain, decreased depression and anxiety and improved outlooks. However, music is rarely activated in the healthcare system at large. Would surgeries seem easier or patients feel less stressed with a calming playlist? Would recovery feel more manageable with uplifting tunes? The beauty is music can always be curated and customized for an individuals tastes to help them through a medical experience. A healthier / calmer / happier society would be the ultimate benefit.

* Source:
Music and health — what kind of music is helpful for whom? What music not? Trappe, HJ. Medizinische Universitätsklinik II (Schwerpunkte Kardiologie und Angiologie), Ruhr-Universität Bochum Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 2009 Dec;134(51-52):2601-6

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