Calming COVID Fears Through Music


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s been five months since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. The social isolation is hitting some people hard, physically and mentally. In fact, one third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression. Learn how the power of music may help calm the stresses of COVID-19.

The sound of music is helping some people change the way they think and feel.

“It can just rewire the brain to do things that it wasn’t already doing,” explained Ashley Marie Lewis, a music therapist.

Lewis said her meetings have been moved online, but the pandemic has not silenced her mission of helping others through music.

Jason Bailey was in the middle of writing a musical, finishing his master’s degree, and playing weekly live performances when the coronavirus shut down the show.

“It was exactly the perfect storm to hit me in a way that I was not prepared to handle. I had some full-blown panic attacks,” shared Bailey, professional musician.

That’s when he found music therapy. In an analysis of 400 studies, music therapy improved the body’s immune system, reduced pain, decreased stress, and was found more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery.

Lewis uses stress relieving techniques like lyric analysis to treat depression and lyric fill-in can help those with memory loss.

“So over time, the brain will actually change its chemistry,” said Lewis.

“I have definitely gotten new mechanisms to help me deal with stress,” stated Bailey.

Proving that music can mend minds.

Lewis said music therapy is not meant to replace medication for problems like anxiety or depression, but to enhance it. Although listening to music at home can be very therapeutic and it does trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin to lift our spirits, it’s not the same as experiencing music therapy with a certified therapist.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer. 


REPORT #2768

BACKGROUND: Music therapy is an established health profession in which music is used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, a therapist provides the treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement, patients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.


POWER OF MUSIC: When listening to music that you enjoy, dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical and serotonin, the “happy” chemical is released in your brain giving you a sense of pleasure while boosting your mood. Music is a great motivator and tunes that have a strong beat will make you want to get up and move. Oxytocin is a hormone released while singing which can alleviate stress and anxiety. Studies have found that singing decreases feelings of depression and loneliness. It is recommended for meditation to use music without lyrics and something with a slow tempo. This can help lower blood pressure and reduce respiration rate when used intentionally. Also, any kind of active engagement in music can help relieve stress such as playing an instrument or moving/dancing to music. It’s important to set up your atmosphere when using music, such as dimming the lights, making sure the temperature is just right, turning off your phone, getting into a comfortable position and minimizing all distractions. About 15-20 minutes a day is all you need to actively listen, relax, and reset.


ART AND MUSIC THERAPY VIA ZOOM: During COVID-19, the UC Davis Creative Arts Therapy team takes their daily art and music therapy groups out of the playroom and into each patient’s room via Zoom. Art therapist Katie Lorain passes out art materials to each patient with directions each day. Music therapist Tori Steeley leads music activities, offering musical instruments for those who want to play and takes song requests. “We do these group activities each day and it has been surprisingly successful,” Lorain said. Virtual attendees include children from other pediatric units in the hospital, as well as patients who otherwise would not be able to participate in playroom activities due to their condition. Recent art activities include creating rainbows from Model Magic Clay, making sensory stained glass, watercolor painting and making clay pots. “Although these changes have been made due to the need for social distancing, it has brought about some creativity and positive change that will potentially continue moving forward,” said Diana Sundberg, manager of Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department.


* For More Information, Contact:

Ashley Marie Lewis, Music Therapist


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