Part 1: How can music enhance our wellness?

Music is a powerful tool! Aside from its entertainment value, listening to music is known to have incredible positive effects on our brain and our overall wellbeing. More specifically, music can change the way we act, feel and think, both consciously and subconsciously. Because there is so much music out there, different music affects everybody uniquely. From rock and jazz, to electronic and pop and everything in between, there’s an endless variety of music to listen to and finding the songs that speak to you is important.

It goes without saying that the wellness market is booming; due to it’s fast-growing and fast-changing nature, this presents many businesses with opportunities to tap into their customers and guests in a wellbeing and wellness manner, especially within the hospitality industry. When appealing to one’s sense of wellbeing and making them feel invigorated, part of something larger or nostalgic, it’s easier to connect with them and a bond to form. With the limitless uncertainties which the world has gone through with COVID-19 and its restrictions, it’s no wonder why people are yearning more to focus on their holistic wellbeing, in the hope of feeling revitalised and rejuvenated and back to some sense of normal. 

It’s important to define wellness, if we’re going to delve deeper into how music can enhance and impact our wellness. Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit” (University of Maryland’s Your Guide to Living Well). The concept of wellness covers both the striving for health, and the living life fully aspect. 

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So, how does music impact our brains?

Music can trigger a variety of chemical reactions in our brains which contribute to relaxation, which in turn aids wellness and wellbeing. From reducing stress hormones to stimulating feelings of happiness, music can almost instantly translate to a good mood. These upbeat, feel-good effects also produce a number of positive long-term benefits for your body, including lower stress and anxiety levels, better sleeping, and improved overall health and wellbeing.

Music has a tremendous influence on our emotional state; the right sound can lead to deeper levels of relaxation and soothe us physically and mentally. Neuroscientists have discovered that listening to music heightens positive emotion through the reward centers of our brain, stimulating hits of dopamine that can make us feel good, or even elated. It can help energise our mood and provide an outlet for us to take control of our feelings. Listening to music also lights up other areas of the brain—in fact, almost no brain center is left untouched—suggesting more widespread effects and potential uses for music. 

Below is an infographic (Source: APMhealth) which clearly describes how music impacts our brains in a multitude of ways.

Research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat; with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. Also, the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening. Mind-blowing!

Music and relaxation

When you think of music and relaxation, your mind probably wonders to a massage, a spa or even beauty salon, where there’s low-toned but somehow indescribably relaxing music playing in the background. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing any stress or distress. Calming music has been scientifically proven to take you into a deeper state of relaxation. Research indicates that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronise with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 – 14 hertz / cycles per second). This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed, calm and conscious.

Listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.

Stanford University Research

With this in mind, music is an accessible tool for everyone which is effective and can almost instantaneously turn around someone’s feelings and their overall wellbeing. Each person will have their own genre of music which will enhance their relaxation, lower their adrenaline and allow them an escape to breathe. 

Music can also promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day or period in your life. When you relax your muscles and loosen your body, your mind also has the opportunity to relax, which can help you to reduce any tension and stress that you may not have realised you were carrying. 

Music and emotional wellness

Music has the ability to change your emotional and physical states, by making you feel introspective, remininsing of the past when that soundtrack meant something important. Music is often used to regulate emotions and can so powerfully do this subconsciously. Think back to a time where you heard a song and how a flood of emotions washed over you? Ever noticed you feeling emotional and not knowing why, then you realise it’s the song playing in the background? 

Music can bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression, worries and anxiety at bay. The uplifting sound of music and the positive or cathartic messages that can be conveyed in the lyrics can all be routes to a new mental state as well. This can help prevent the stress response from wreaking havoc on the body and can help keep creativity and optimism levels higher, bringing many other benefits.

Music can also be used to help people express themselves and how they are feeling, and this can be cathartic on so many levels. For example, if you’re holding a lot of pent up anxiety and anger, listening to heavy metal or something with strong beats can help release some tension. On the other hand, if slower instrumental music can help bring a sense of calm and peace when one needs to be reflective. It helps some express how they feel without having to use words. 

Music and wellbeing over the pandemic

The pandemic brought most of our lives, personally, professionally and socially to an unexpected screeching halt. As we weren’t allowed to eat in restaurants, exercise in gyms, meet with friends, or visit with extended family, many of us were left feeling bored, lonely and anxious. Many people turned to music as a source of comfort, for their overall wellbeing.

Verywell Mind conducted a study to see how many people relied on music to cope with the pandemic, and whether those people found that music did in fact help their mental health and sense of wellbeing. An overwhelming 79% said they turned to music during the pandemic to cope. While there were varying reasons for turning to music, the vast majority said they used music to cheer themselves up. Other top reasons people listened to or created music included feeling less stressed, changing their moods, and distracting themselves from unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

It’s therefore so conspicuous that music can be extremely powerful for hospitality businesses to get right. If you’re a hotel or a spa specifically, playing the correct background music which will entice your guests and make them feel a desired way, will help with retention, referrals and ongoing business now and in the future.

Wellness is not an area to disregard as it is here to stay! In the same notion, it is not a passing fad, so taking an integrative approach to wellness in your offering, should be carefully considered, and thereafter tailored, be it with music and any other sensory elements.

If you’d like to find out more how background music can enhance your guests’ wellness and wellbeing in a hassle-free manner, then book a chat with one of our Music Specialists.

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