We all self medicate with music whether we realise it or not. Many of us have go-to playlists for when we're feeling low on energy, dealing with a breakup or that hold special memories. But most of us don't fully grasp just how much we depend on music to manage our emotions on a daily basis or how powerful the scientific and medical evidence is to support music as a form of therapy.

Numerous studies have revealed that humans are hardwired for music and that there is no other stimulus which positively activates so many different regions in both hemispheres of the human brain simultaneously. The research also states that it has a unique capacity to boost mood and memory.

This is because listening to music elicits a variety of chemical reactions within the brain that contribute to relaxation and increased wellbeing. For example it lowers the levels of cortisol (a hormone that contributes to feelings of stress and anxiety) in your body and also triggers the release of dopamine in your brain (dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of happiness and excitement). Studies have shown that listening to music before going to bed significantly improves sleeping patterns and can be an effective treatment for insomnia. As sleep is a natural stress-reducer, it sets up a positive stress reduction cycle; listening to music lowers stress which leads to better sleep, which in turn also reduces stress.

Research has shown that music has the ability to alter the speed of brainwaves and produce brain activity that has a therapeutic effect on the mind and body. In particular music with a slow tempo and a repetitive, recurring pattern (ostinato) alters brain activity in a way that induces a trance-like state similar to that of meditation and hypnotism, which encourages relaxation. This ability to alter brainwave speed has also been shown to ease the symptoms of migraines, depression and behavioural disorders such as ADHD and autism.

Music has been proven to have a huge impact on a broad spectrum of neurological conditions. It is known that certain soundscapes influence the brain in different ways but it is not currently fully understood how or why. There are a huge number of ongoing research projects all over the world looking into all aspects of music to better understand which elements specifically impact biometrics such as heart rate, brainwaves and sleep patterns. This is in order to create music as a precision medicine to treat everything from pain to PTSD.

Music therapy is not a modern concept, it was a standard form of treatment in ancient Greece. The physicians of antiquity believed that music had a therapeutic influence and could be used to restore harmony within the body, mind and soul. For example patients in manic states were often instructed to listen to the calming music of the flute, while those suffering from depression were prescribed listening to music played on the dulcimer.

the ancient and beautiful dulcimer

From my own experience of using music to help treat my depression and anxiety - in the form of playing my harp and listening to playlists I created - I definitely agree with those physicians and the latest research. The icing on the cake is that music therapy comes with absolutely zero negative side effects.

The impact of these simple music practices have had on my wellbeing and state of mind has been so huge that it has made me want to share everything I have learned in the hope it will help others feel better too.

It has also been the spark behind me learning to compose my own music to calm, soothe and create moments of calm for whenever life gets hectic. Essentially music to escape the worries of world with.

In the MUSIC section of my blog you will find my own compositions to soothe you in Composed, playlists full of beautiful calming music for different situations and music meditations (music meds) I have recorded to help you relax and escape.

I encourage you to find somewhere comfortable to sit and listen to the pieces you will find here as you would a guided meditation and not just as background music. Really focus on the notes, close your eyes and breathe deeply. I find the effects are further amplified if I allow my mind to create images inspired by what I hear and allow them to evolve as the piece progresses.

Happy Listening, I hope what you find here brings you peace and calm,

Samantha x

with love,