This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.
Inspiration for this Topic:
I have been playing various musical instruments from a young age and the one that I enjoy the most is the saxophone. I’ve continued playing to this day and like playing jazz music the most. I’ve noticed that whenever I feel stressed or just need to relax, I tend to put on my favorite music and take a minute to collect myself. Through this realization, I’ve connected music to meditation and use this stress-relief strategy to lead a healthier and happier life. Within this course, one of our assignments was to interview a mental health professional. I chose to speak to Dr. Gill, registered psychologist, who spoke about using meditation within her psychotherapy sessions. If her choice of relief to patients was meditation, could music be used to help them also? This was my inspiration for the topic and I wanted to learn the effects that music can have on the human mind. I feel that stress is a big problem for many people and it needs to be addressed and dealt with. It has become normalized and people, specifically students, are failing to see that they are stressed. This project is aimed to help identify stress and offer a unique way to help reduce it.
Stress and How to Identify It:
First, there are two main kinds of stress: acute and long term. Acute means you get really stressed out over something for a short period of time; this is the kind that we have all experienced at some point in our lives. For teens right now, I feel that much acute or even long term stress is induced by school and the pressure to do well. If you have long term chronic stress, you feel stressed for a week or more. This continual stress causes mental health problems later down the road. Stress is not all bad though, in small amounts it can keep you focused or even save your life. But, stress usually affects your mental and emotional health as well as: physical pain, skin rashes, digestive issues, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, heart problems, obesity, and autoimmune disorders. Stress is dependent on the individual as well, because some people have low stress tolerances and others have high. Either way, it is important to identify stress in yourself so you can better cope with stress and what is causing it. Here is a list of symptoms and their categories, but you may experience slightly different symptoms because everyone is different.
The main appeal of music as medicine is in the emotions it evokes in us and how this can change our day. It puts us in a certain mood and we can even relax and zone out to the tunes. It also has a few other effects:
- Increases endorphins and other pleasure hormones in your bloodstream.
- Decreases the production of cortisol and adrenaline along with other stress hormones.
- Slow your heart rate and blood pressure (entrainment). *also depends on music choice*
- Stimulates alpha brain waves, associated with a relaxed and conscious state of mind, or delta waves best for the onset of sleep.
All of the effects of listening to music help to alleviate stress. Meditation is a powerful way to alleviate stress and is more widely used in the east, it is still beneficial to us. As music absorbs our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same time it helps to explore emotions. This helps the mind from wandering during meditation and causes a deeper and more mindful meditation. This deep meditation has a lot of healing effects, one of these being stress. We sometimes have unconscious negative thoughts and positive music can be used to counteract these negative thoughts and thus stress.
The type of music you like varies from person to person and it is up to you to find the music that puts you in the best relaxation mood. Through my research, I found that the main genre of music for relaxation and meditation is classical. I personally find jazz to be the most relaxing and soothing, but it also depends on my mood. That is the great part of music, there is a song for every kind of occasion and feeling. For meditation purposes, it doesn’t even have to be music, it could be white noise or nature sounds. The use and impact of music is so far-reaching and people are able to feel better,concentrate, meditate, and be mindful.
My Favorite Relaxing Music
My Task for You:
If and when you feel stressed, try this musical meditation. A good amount of time for this meditation would be around 15- 30 minutes. If you do not know if you are stressed or not, look at the symptoms in the table above and see what you are experiencing. Look deep here and think about your true feelings. The more you reduce your ongoing stress, the better your life will be. I would like you to listen to the music prompts below and chose the one that you like the best for meditation.
Other ways to Reduce Stress:
White , Donna M. “Recognizing and Dealing with Stress.” Psych Central, 17 July 2016, psychcentral.com/lib/recognizing-and-dealing-with-stress/.
“Recognising Stress in Yourself – Signs and Symptoms.” NHS Foundation Trust , www.dchs.nhs.uk/assets/public/dchs/dchs_staff_zone/TOF/mecc/Recognising_stress_in_yourself_-_signs_and_syptoms_-_amended_V2.pdf.
“How to Recognize the Causes of Stress.” Edited by Timmothy J Legg, Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/stress-causes.
Novotney, Amy. “Music as Medicine.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013, www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.
Collingwood, Jane. “The Power of Music To Reduce Stress.” Psych Central, 22 Mar. 2018, psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/.
Baker, Danielle M. “The Scientific Benefits of Music.” Science of People, 7 Dec. 2017, www.scienceofpeople.com/scientific-benefits-music/.