Monday, October 23, 2006

Rock on Baby

Is it easier to be in a good mood when you listen to a lot of music? I wondered about that. I figured that it could at least help as a distraction for the annoying and sometimes damaging thoughts we can allow to make residence in our minds.

A quick search on Medline showed that music is being used as therapy and that it has been shown in a variety of studies to improve mood. Using "music and mood" as my keywords, I pulled up 271 articles. Here are a just a few of them:

Kemper KJ and Danhauer SC published Music as Therapy in South Med J. 2005 Mar;98(3):282-8.

Their study shows that:

"Music is widely used to enhance well-being, reduce stress, and distract patients from unpleasant symptoms. Although there are wide variations in individual preferences, music appears to exert direct physiologic effects through the autonomic nervous system...Music effectively reduces anxiety and improves mood for medical and surgical patients, for patients in intensive care units and patients undergoing procedures, and for children as well as adults. Music is a low-cost intervention that often reduces surgical, procedural, acute, and chronic pain. Music also improves the quality of life for patients receiving palliative care, enhancing a sense of comfort and relaxation..."

Stratton, V.N. Psychology and Education: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2003; vol 40: pp 1-11. News Release, Penn State University.

Shows that:

"No matter what kind of music you listen to, it makes your mood better...Not only did our sample of students report more positive emotions after listening to music, but their already positive emotions were intensified by listening to music," Stratton says in a news release.

It didn't matter whether the students listened to rock/pop, soft rock/easy listening, oldies, classical, or new-age music. It also didn't seem to matter whether the music was played during an activity -- such as dressing or driving -- or or whether it was played while socializing.

After listening, the psychology students were more optimistic, joyful, friendly, relaxed, and calm. They also were less pessimistic and sad. Music, however, did not entirely soothe the frightened beast in student breasts. After listening, they did not report being less fearful." therapy, massage, and hypnosis may have a positive effect on anxiety in cancer patients (Mansky PJ and Wallerstedt DB Cancer J. 2006 Sep-Oct:12(5):425-31).

So, why not turn on the tunes? We have so many more ways to enjoy music in our lives these days, from our iPods (check out the love song to this device on Salon today) to Pandora--a free customizable Internet radio service, which I'm listening to now as I write this, that we really have no excuse to sit in silence.

I've gone back and forth with music. I know I wouldn't have survived our cross country trip without the thousands of songs I had downloaded, and my feet move with extra buoyancy when I listen to my workout playlist while running. I also love to listen to music when I cook.

I do sometimes choose to sit in silence when I write though. I guess I've always thought that music would distract me. I've read that some writers use music to set the mood for what they're working on and I've toyed with that idea myself. I do know that if I'm going to get depressed, irritable, or crave carbohydrates it's usually going to happen when I'm writing. I mean sitting still in front of a computer all day and spitting out slop isn't a mood-enhancing activity for me. Maybe if I play some music I'll get more done and make fewer trips to the refrigerator. It's worth a try.


nina said...

Music is everywhere and everything. It accompanies us throughout our lives, helping us to remember the good times, and the bad ones. And, music is the pulse of sexuality! Yay! In all seriousness, I don’t leave the house without my iPod, and I constantly have something playing when I work (either a playlist in iTunes or using the streaming internet radio service). It’s essential!


Kim Barke said...

Hey Nina,

Thanks for stopping by!

So you do listen to music while you work? I'll have to start trying that more often.

I actually thought of you when I was writing this--your review of the sexy iPod accessory OhMiBod came to mind. Wait, you've got a new one, even better. I'll have to shout this one out.