“Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch.”
– Debasish Mridha.
As a society, we have been musing for centuries about the healing and therapeutic effects of music. Greek physicians were known to use flutes, lyres, and zitters to help their patients with digestion, mental disturbances, and sleep issues. Ancient Egyptians shared musical incantations that were thought to heal the ailing. In the 19th century, the effects of music on blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and more began to be examined formally.
Those early studies showed that live music lowers blood pressure, increases cardiac output, decreases heart rate and assists the work of the parasympathetic system (Meymandi, 2009). Modern studies have continued to replicate these results with both live and recorded music. In a meta-analysis of 400 studies, it was uncovered that music improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress (Chanda & Levitin, 2013). The researchers found that listening to and playing music can increase the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness. Music was also found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Integrating Music Into your Life
Now that we know that music can play an important role in building our immunity, how can we incorporate music into our daily lives to help promote a robust immune system? Try these tips to integrate music into your life.
Make Commute Playlists
Whether your commute is 6 minutes or 60 minutes, having a playlist can help get you in the right mindset going into work and reset after a long day. Try making two playlists: an upbeat, power anthem playlist and a calming, soothing playlist. Decide what you need on various days, and listen to the corresponding playlist.
2. Listen to Music While You Cook
Spotify has amazing playlists for cooking! Search “Cooking & Dining” and check out the pre-made playlists. Turn on some tunes, turn up the heat on the oven, and get ready to feel amazing.
3. Learn to play an instrument
It is never too late to learn an instrument! Have you always wanted to be able to play your favorite song on guitar or piano? Do you yearn to master the soothing tones of the flute? Start now! Learning to play an instrument is great for your body, mind, and spirit and can be a great way to fill your leisure time.
4. Make a mood shift playlist
Do you find yourself frequently feeling anxious or overwhelmed? Try making a playlist that starts with songs that match your state when you are overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, and slowly transition to songs that soothe, affirm, and uplift you. Listen to this playlist when you need to process and move through your emotions.
5. Turn on your favorite jams and have a dance party
Holding onto stress dampens your immune system and increases your cortisol. Turn on some of your favorite songs (try 90s hip-hop or throwback jams!) and have a dance party in your living room. Inviting play into your life is an amazing, fun-filled way to decrease cortisol and improve your overall wellness.
Humming or singing can be incredibly healing. If your body is in a state of stress, try humming in a low, resonant voice. You should feel your chest vibrating while you hum. Continue to explore how it feels to move your voice up and down and explore the body sensations that you experience while humming.
Take some time to reflect on your daily routine. Is there anywhere that you could incorporate or add music to your routine? Try to listen to music with the intention of supporting your immune system and overall health, and see what happens!
- Meymandi A. (2009). Music, medicine, healing, and the genome project. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 6(9), 43–45.
- Chanda, M. L., & Levitin, D. J. (2013). The neurochemistry of music. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(4), 179–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2013.02.007