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Using Music to Combat Stress: Six tried and tested ways

Somehow, we’ve made it to the end of term. Schools have broken up for the summer (in various forms…) and many of us are considering a holiday. Even a couple of weeks ago this didn’t seem possible.

For many of us, the impact of the past few months has been profound. Stress symptoms like headaches, increased heart rate, stomach problems and racing thoughts are on the up. Some have been furloughed on a long term basis; some have lost jobs. Anxiety and panic are prevalent. Those who have experienced trauma previously and those diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder are particularly vulnerable.

How can music help? How is NLMT uniquely placed to offer support? Since March, we’ve been experimenting and we’ve developed several new strategies to support our existing clients, and we think they might be useful for you too. Here’s six ways in which we think music can help combat stress and anxiety:

  1. Find a playlist that helps change your mood. Whether you like to use music for relaxation, an energy boost or to help you get up in the morning, millions of playlists are readily curated across all streaming platforms. This article from music therapist Liz Coombes gives some great suggestions for particular pieces which studies have shown can alter our mood. We also created a Lockdown Chillout Playlist back in March, which you can access for free here.

  2. Take control of your own experience and build your own playlist. Our article in the Metro gives handy tips as to how to curate your own playlists based on your personal preferences, taking you on a journey from one feeling state to another.

  3. Got a piano in the corner of the room? A guitar in the loft, gathering dust? Get playing! Active music making stimulates more parts of the brain than just listening to music. Fender have great online resources for learning guitar, bass and ukulele, and the two market leaders for learning piano online are Flowkey (in collaboration with Yamaha) and Playground Sessions (co-created by music legend Quincy Jones).

  4. Especially for those with young children, try making music together as a family activity. We love Little Harts Music on Instagram, who have loads of video ideas for music making with little ones, including this brilliant video taking you through maraca making at home.

  5. If you feel like your thoughts are getting on top of you and you’re not sure how to talk about it, song writing might really help. This article is packed with tips about how to commit your lyrics to paper from some of the most successful songwriters across the world.

  6. Sometimes, anxiety and stress can feel so overwhelming that working with a professional is the most helpful way forward. NLMT has some availability for online music therapy: if you would like a confidential chat to find out more, get in touch with us here - we'd really encourage you to do so. If you want to find out more about how sessions work, our website has all the details you’ll need.

What *is* music therapy anyway? Your answer is right this way...

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