If you’re looking for unique ways to bring wellness to your employees, music therapy has some interesting uses and benefits.
Music therapy can be used for several specific physical or mental wellness conditions, as well as for general personal growth, empowerment, and stress reduction. See how you can use music therapy—and music in general—for stress in the workplace.
Music Therapy: One Answer to Employee Stress
What is the Definition of Music Therapy?
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) defines music therapy as a way for people to receive positive healing effects from a clinically directed program of “creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music.”
The effects come from working with melodies and rhythms in a way that strengthens brain synapses, improves coordination, and lowers the levels of stress-related hormones.
The AMTA is careful to distinguish between clinical music therapy as directed by a certified music therapist, and the general pleasant experience of enjoying music.
So while creating and listening to music may feel positive, the true therapeutic effects described by the AMTA can only come from a regimented program from a trained professional.
How Does Music Therapy Work?
Participants of music therapy don’t require any prior music training to enjoy it or get the benefits.
The benefits happen from working with rhythms on hand drums or working with simple melodies.
Some work may be done on simple instruments that are easy to learn the basics of. Clients learn to put together simple melodies, sing or move to the music in a regimented program their therapist has put together for them. Many different genres of music are used during music therapy.
Some music therapists will simply play music for people based on what they like best!
Music therapists can work with remote teams as well.
Benefits of Music Therapy at Work
Here are some ways music therapy is used:
- Reducing pain
- Improving sleep patterns
- Brain injury rehabilitation
- Improving communication and speech abilities
- Improving motor function
- Lessening effects of dementia
As more companies are striving to provide mental health and wellness support, programs like music therapy may start to show up as a workplace benefit.
According to Dr. Suzanne Hanser, music therapy positively affects heart rate, blood pressure, and vital signs—all keys to maintaining mental focus and agility at any task.
As a non-invasive, drug-free supplement, employees could see positive effects on mental health, brain functioning, stress reduction, focus, and even relief from depression and anxiety.
Music Therapy for Mental Health
Music therapy can be effective for people that suffer from depression. Music therapy, when combined with other treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or medication, can help people recover from depression. This study also found that music therapy for anxiety is effective as well—especially for cancer patients.
Here are some music therapy activities and ways you can tap into the power of music for your mental health, inspired by music therapist Peter Carpenter:
- Use music to help redirect your thoughts, helping you change the negative thoughts you may be experiencing.
- Listen to music that matches how you are feeling. Then, gradually switch to music that has a more positive mood to help lift your spirits.
- Journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings, your favorite lyrics, or anything else that resonates with you through the process. This will help you discover which types of music help you feel better.
- Listen to new music, or find new things in the songs you already love. Get your brain thinking in new ways. This will also help you be mindful while listening to music.
- Try learning a new instrument. This is a great way to increase creativity and reduce stress. Use music as an outlet!
- Try meeting with a music therapist. They will help you integrate music into your mental health journey.
How to Use Music Therapy in the Workplace
Given the wide-ranging effects of this kind of work, there could be numerous benefits for the workplace.
For employees, music therapy could be particularly useful as an alternative form of rehabilitation following a work-related injury, or as part of a mental wellness and support program.
But, you don’t need to have a music therapist come into your workplace to reap some of the benefits of music at work.
Listening to Music at Work
Music at work isn’t new. Back in 1942, a radio station in the UK tried broadcasting upbeat music for 30 minutes, twice per day for factory workers. For some companies, it helped increase productivity!
Music can be especially helpful for people with intellectually demanding desk jobs, like programming, marketing, analytics, etc.
The Best Music to Listen to at Work
Here are some of the best tracks to listen to while working, inspired by an article by the University of Nevada:
- Marconi Union—Weightless (This song has been found to reduce anxiety by 65%. It was designed to slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and lower levels of cortisol in the body.)
- R. Carlos Nakai—Echoes Of Time (Canyon Trilogy Track 4)
- As Twilight Fades ~ Dan Gibson’s Solitudes
- 6 Hour Powerful Tibetan Bowl Music
- Beautiful Relaxing Music for Stress Relief
- 4 A.M Study Session 📚—[lofi hip hop/chill beats]
Looking to branch out even more? Here are some of the best genres/types of music to listen to at work:
- Classical music
- White noise
- Music with ASMR sounds
- Tibetan singing bowl music
- Instrumental music
- Upbeat songs
- Piano, flute, or guitar music
- Music with alpha waves
- Happy, uplifting songs
Overall, the best music to listen to at work is calming and soothing. It should be able to fade into the background while you’re working. It shouldn’t be the main point of focus for your brain.
For similar benefits, employees can also listen to nature sounds.
Music You Shouldn’t Listen to at Work
It is best to avoid music with words. This can be distracting and lead to multitasking.
The more complicated the music, the worse off employees tend to be. Music that is melancholy, angry-sounding, or has a complicated structure may also do more harm than good.
If you’re in an office, it is best for employees to listen using their headphones so everyone can listen to what works best for them.
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