Music: A Universal Language
Music is a universal language that any and all can enjoy. The diverse selection of genres offers unique experiences for listeners, including some health benefits you may have not known about. Music has the power to improve our emotional state, increase self-esteem and positive body awareness, and enhance our cognitive abilities. Music also helps individuals to recognize and deescalate negative emotions associated with trauma and addiction.
There are many ways to integrate music into you or your loved one’s recovery process. Many use music in their meditation or exercise routines to ease stress and anxiety levels; others use music for creative expression through songwriting or learning how to play an instrument. Drums, specifically, have been associated with improving emotional stability and promoting relaxation. A variety of online resources (many of which are free) can introduce you or your loved one to the basics of playing almost any instrument.
Music therapy can be a powerful addition to the recovery process. In a nutshell, music therapy is an evidence-based, clinical practice of utilizing music as a tool for a variety of healing purposes in a therapeutic setting. Many music therapists integrate music through lyric analysis games, musical improvisation, and musically guided meditation practices. This therapy generally supports those currently moving through the recovery process, as well as those struggling to remain committed to their sobriety goals.
Potential Benefits of Music for Recovery
- Communication: Music helps us communicate when we cannot find the right words to express our emotions. Whether you write your own song or listen to a favorite musician who can eloquently and concisely express what you’re feeling, music can help you handle the complicated emotions that go along with the recovery journey. Being aware of your loved one’s music selection may help you better understand their current emotional state and potentially mitigate any unwanted behavior or relapse.
- Reducing Stress: Research has found that listening to music may improve not only our stress levels in the moment, but also help us to better metabolize stress in the future. Oxidative stress, or accumulation of stored stress over time, can cause increased risk of a variety of diseases and general imbalances. Music, especially in the form of calming tunes, may help regulate stress and anxiety levels and thus support the recovery experience.
- Connecting with Others: Music provides an approachable way to make new friendships and to communicate with current friends and family. Listeners connect with each other through sharing the same musical preference and choice of artists, connections that may lead to meaningful relationships. If you’re in recovery, you might try integrating music into a conversation with a loved one to help express to them how you’re feeling.
Can Music Harm the Recovery Process?
Although the benefits of integrating music into your recovery, whether through guided music therapy, personal exploration, or general entertainment, can be powerful, there are some serious precautions to consider.
Music that uses triggering words or speaks frequently about unhealthy lifestyle choices may be detrimental to those who are trying to stay focused on their sobriety goals. Just as many lifestyle choices need to change to support recovery, your choice of music may also need to be reconsidered.
If you are concerned about artist or genre choices, try expanding your repertoire with websites like Spotify, Soundcloud, or Apple Music. These platforms may help you to discover not only your new favorite songs, but also a new way to support your sobriety goals. There are even premade playlists to fit almost every mood and experience that may arise during this transformative journey. Ask your professional counselor or therapist about healthy ways to incorporate music into you or your loved one’s recovery process.
We Are Here to Help
St. Gregory is here to support you and your loved ones through the sobriety journey. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized approach to recovery.