Music plays a role in nearly everyone’s life. From the casual listener to the avid musician, everyone has had the experience of being moved by a song or a piece of music. Perhaps the lyrics spoke to what you felt in that moment or a particular song evokes a twinge of nostalgia. Our emotions and even our physiology are powerfully affected by music. Harnessing that power to improve your mental health and aid your recovery from substance use disorders is possible. Here’s how.
Music Affects Your Mood
Music affects your mood in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. It can make you feel energetic, sad, sentimental, uneasy, and hundreds of other emotions we don’t even have words for. You can use this to your advantage in several ways. First, you can use music simply as a tool to help you feel better. For example, if you feel a bit down, listening to something upbeat might improve your mood.
However, sometimes, matching your mood with music is more effective. If you feel especially gloomy, upbeat music might grate on you while something equally gloomy might help you feel better. Reassurance that you’re not alone and that whatever you’re feeling is valid is a big part of healing. Be careful though, as matching your mood too much and for too long can ultimately keep you stuck. You want to feel like it’s okay to be sad or angry but also be willing to move on and let those feelings go.
Playing Music Strengthens Your Brain
Music is one of the best activities you can take up in recovery for a number of reasons. One big reason is that it’s good for your brain. Many studies have found that playing an instrument, as well as simply listening to music, has many cognitive benefits. Improved mood, decreased stress, and less age-related cognitive decline are just a few of the many positive effects experienced.
Playing an instrument is one of the most cognitively complex things you can do. It requires focus, pattern recognition, working memory, motor coordination, speech recognition, timing, and other cognitive skills. Imaging studies show that musicians have better connectivity between the hemispheres of their brains. Learning to play an instrument, or picking it up again, is one of the best things you can do to improve your mood and sharpen your thinking.
Music Therapy Can Speed up Your Progress
Solid evidence points to the fact that music therapy is a valuable complement to a regular treatment program for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. There appear to be a number of reasons for this. In addition to the benefits listed above, music can be an alternative means of expression. People who have difficulty talking about trauma, for example, may be able to express it obliquely by referencing or interpreting songs or by writing their own songs. Music is also a powerful way to form social connections. We often share musical tastes with our friends, especially when we’re younger, and playing music with a group requires communication on many levels.
Looking for Support?
Music therapy can be a positive addition to a treatment program for many people. However, recovery from addiction and mental health issues is always an individual process. No single approach works for everyone. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, we understand the need to address addiction on the mental, physical, and spiritual levels. In doing so, we help men create fulfilling lives free from drugs and alcohol. To learn more about our program, call us today at 855-202-2138.