Music can be one of the most powerful elements in many aspects of our daily life. Think about it…what would a love scene in a romantic movie be without a beautiful melody in the background? Or even in a horror movie where music generates more suspense for the viewer. I can’t imagine going for a run and exercising without the beat of a song that sets the rhythm, or engaging in meditation without those sounds that transport you into a place of calm and tranquility.
Music and chronic pain are intimately connected – as music can have a huge impact on the way we feel, both emotionally and physically. Studies show it can motivate and increase our energy and activity, just as it can bring us a feeling of calm and tranquility. It can bring back memories and even emotions and feelings from the past. It is so powerful that it has become one of the most popular therapies to help people manage feelings, regulate emotions, relieve stress, and reduce pain – which is something most of us reading this piece need!
So what exactly is music therapy and how can you engage in it? The British Music Therapy Association says, “Music therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention, which is delivered by Health and Care Professions Council registered music therapists, to help people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs”.
When we listen to music, we start releasing endorphins, the famous “hormones of happiness”. Endorphins are opioid neurotransmitters that interact with the receptors in our body and interrupt pain signals, giving a feeling of well-being and relieving pain. They work similarly to opioids, but without the side effects. Bottom line: Endorphins act as the body’s natural pain relievers.
Music is one of the best tools in a Lupuschick’s arsenal for releasing endorphins in the body. The basic function of endorphins is to reward us with a pleasant sensation when we do something good for our body –that is why we feel so good when we exercise, when we have sex, when we have good company, or eat our favorite snack, etc.
See our favorite relaxation music choices below!
Music has been used for acute pain in cancer treatments and other diseases for years with great success. Various studies show that patients require less pain relievers and are much more positive after undergoing music therapy.
This use of music to relieve acute pain can also be translated into use for chronic pain. Since the same analgesic effect can occur, this may actually reduce the need for pain medication or reduce the amount taken. When music therapy is combined with other techniques and treatments for chronic pain management, patients can experience a significant reduction in pain and a real improvement in their levels of functioning.
Likewise, listening to music regularly allows you to focus on your breathing, making you more aware of it by developing control over it.
It can also lower your heart rate and can even lower blood pressure.
It is as simple as trying to distract our minds for a short period, leaving discomfort, pain, or discomfort aside. And, when we listen to music that relaxes us or makes us happy, it can instill a rush of feelings, memories, and emotions. For me, music is an essential part of my life; when I was on hemodialysis, I could not enter my session without having downloaded my favorite playlist: the Anna Karenina soundtrack. But the best thing (don’t think I’m crazy) is that during the session I used to imagine myself dancing all those melodies in the palaces of Russia (where the Anna Karenina story takes place), of course with the corsets and dresses of the time. Much better to think about that, than how terrible I felt during hemodialysis, don’t you agree?
Music Therapy Options from The LupusChick Team
You can find many options on different platforms, for example on Spotify. You can start by searching for something generic like “Relaxing Music Therapy”. You’ll find pieces that transport you to the calm sea, with the sound of the waves and the wind, to songs with Asian overtones and very Zen instrumentals. YouTube also has a plethora of music therapy options.
You can also consult specialists who can advise you and give you some recommendations. On Instagram, one of our favorite experts you can follow is @musicalhealththepod, created by Caitlin Krater, who also has a podcast about music therapy specializing in health, wellness and chronic illness.
Below you will find some of my favorites, as well as Marisa’s (LC founder) favorites! Enjoy and share your favorite tracks in the comments for other LupusChicks to listen to.