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10 Health Benefits of Music That You Were Never Aware Of

10 Health Benefits of Music That You Were Never Aware Of

Can you imagine a civilization without music? Impossible, I would say. In addition, history shows that every culture on this planet has used music in its religion, meditation, medicine, rituals and enjoyment of life. Let us look at the actual health benefits now.

1. Music is good for your heart.

“There’s just something about music—particularly live music—that excites and activates the body.”

—Joanne Loewy, Editor, Music and Medicine.

They say that music is good for the soul, but what about the heart? There are lots of experiments which are more or less impressive on the benefits of music when treating illness.

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Heart patients were observed at Massachusetts General Hospital. They were recovering from heart surgery. Some patients listened to Mozart’s piano sonatas for half an hour every day. These patients were the ones who had improved heart rates and lower blood pressure compared with those who never listened to any music at all.

2. We are musical creatures.

A must-read book on the power of music is Musicophilia by Dr. Oliver Sacks. He tells us that music and its powerful rhythms and sounds occupy more space in our brain than language does! As a neurologist, he has researched and studied extensively the role of music in our lives.

On his website, Dr. Sacks explains that when he meets people who are aphasic (have lost the power of speech), he always sings “Happy Birthday” to them. It is a starting point for treatment as many aphasic patients can still sing.

3. Music can help with pain relief.

Patients suffering from unrelenting pain have found relief from listening to music. Classical music seems to be the best option and Mozart and Bach are the most suitable. Also music for meditation can help but heavy metal and other techno sounds can actually agitate patients and cause irregular heartbeats, so they are not recommended.

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4. Music may be useful in controlling obesity.

Subliminal music which sends messages to the subconscious may work in helping people with weight control. It may act on the working memory so the messages about which foods to avoid will be repeated more effectively.

Other studies show that simply playing soft and relaxing music while eating can have a controlling effect on how full you feel. The result is that you will eat less.

5. Music can strengthen your immune system.

The Community Music School at the Michigan State University lists many health benefits of music therapy. One of the more interesting studies done hows that the interleukin-1 levels, which are key boosters for our immune system, can benefit from exposure to music. Even a quarter of an hour of music was effective. This is mentioned in the book, The Rebirth of Music.

6. Music helps premature babies.

The Beth Israel Medical Center treated over 250 premature babies with a special type of musical therapy. They chose music which resembled the sounds of the mother’s womb. These ranged from percussion instruments to lullabies. The music therapists chose the music carefully to suit the babies’ heartbeats and breathing patterns. The results were surprising in that the babies were quieter, slept better and were generally less stressed, as well as their parents!

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7. Music may help with memory and learning.

There was a lot of publicity about the “Mozart Effect” which showed that a group of college students did better at math while they were listening to some classical music. Some students find that music can aid concentration, while others need silence.

8. Playing a musical instrument can help with motor skills.

Many patients who have suffered brain damage after a stroke have gained benefits by learning to play a musical instrument. It can help with impulse control and social interaction. Stroke patients also benefit greatly when they have to learn lyrics and melody.

9. Music can help the elderly.

Elderly people often suffer from loneliness and depression, especially when they end up in nursing homes. Music has helped Alzheimer’s patients to actually focus on reality, albeit for short periods. It also makes them less agitated. Researchers have also noted that those senior citizens who still play an instrument are much fitter physically and emotionally than those who have never played.

10. Music may help you feel less sad.

For those people who feel down, there is a therapeutic benefit in listening to music. It does not have to be joyful or jolly either! Researchers at the University of Kent found that the selection of SSIM (Self-Identified Sad Music) by sad people was not necessarily linked to improving their mood. As long as it was beautiful, it would help them.

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Now the next time you listen to music to keep you motivated at the gym or to relax, help you sleep or help with stress, just thank your lucky stars that you have free therapy. There are no negative side effects either!

Featured photo credit: Artsedge Kennedy Centre via artsedge.kennedy-center.org

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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