“Unleashing Happiness” a monthly blog by Karen Lee Stevens

Founder and Director of Wellness Programs, Karen Lee Stevens shares her insights as she explores regular topics and experiences through the lens of mental health, wellness and the human-animal bond.

BLOG POST #8 – The Magic of Music

February 9, 2024

by KAREN LEE STEVENS

It started out as a boring, blank wall in my living room. I searched high and low for a piece of art to fit the space, but nothing seemed to stick—until I came up with the perfect solution: a big screen TV!  A seemingly simple job of hanging a television turned into a big project that required extensive electrical work as well as new drywall, texture, and paint. After all this effort and expense, I admit that I rarely watch television. So what was my motivation for mounting a TV on the wall? To chill out with calming music videos on YouTube!

There’s something incredibly soothing about going through my workday enveloped in the gentle sounds of piano concertos, the soft lull of Native American flutes, and the ethereal hum of harp music. And bonus: these videos showcase mesmerizing visuals — everything from schools of brightly colored fish gliding through the vast ocean to scenes of cozy coffee shops with crackling fires and steam rising from cups of hot tea. There are even music videos to help reduce your dog’s stress and separation anxiety and videos of cuddly cats purring.

My personal favorites are the “Hobbit House” videos, which feature cozy and rustic settings reminiscent of the dwellings found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” series. These videos often showcase peaceful nature scenes with lush forests, rolling hills, or quaint cottages, accompanied by relaxing instrumental music. Viewers are invited to immerse themselves in the enchanting ambiance of these fantasy-inspired settings, providing a tranquil escape from the stresses of daily life.

A television prominently displayed in my living room makes me feel like I’m living in a highbrow art museum, except instead of Monet and Van Gogh, I’m treated to rotating episodes of “Moonlit Lullabies” and “Sunset Serenades.”

Music has a remarkable ability to heal us emotionally and physically, transcending language and cultural barriers to reach the depths of our souls. Its melodies and rhythms can evoke a wide range of emotions, from joy and love to sadness and nostalgia, providing a comforting soundtrack to life’s ups and downs. Beyond its emotional impact, music has been scientifically proven to have therapeutic effects on the body, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and even alleviating pain. Perhaps Bono, the well-known lead vocalist of the rock band U2, said it best: “Music can change the world because it can change people’s moods.”

If you’re in the mood for some mellow music, try out these popular genres:

1. Classical music: Pieces by composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach are often cited for their calming effects on the mind and body.

2. Ambient music: Ambient sounds and music featuring nature sounds, such as rainfall, ocean waves, or birdsong, can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels.

3. Instrumental music: Music without lyrics, such as instrumental jazz, piano, or guitar music, can help to calm the mind and promote relaxation.

4. Slow-tempo music: Music with a slow beat, characterized by a relaxed rhythm and gentle melodies, has been found to reduce heart rate and induce a state of relaxation.

5. Meditation music: Specifically designed music for meditation, featuring repetitive patterns and serene tones, can help to quiet the mind and reduce stress.

So, the next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take a break. Find a calming video or audio soundtrack, sit back, and let the music carry you away. You might be surprised at how much healing power lies within those magical melodies.

Questions or comments? Contact Karen@TherapyDogsSB.org

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