Musical scientists have finally determined the exact amount of time it takes for music ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has been studying the beneficial effects of listening to music for therapeutic purposes for years.
The new research by BAST, the Music as Medicine project, has tried to identify exactly what kind of music stimulates positive neural responses and how long one must listen before these responses begin to activate.
“Most people hear or actively listen to music every day and as humans we tend to change our playlists based on our mood,” explained the neuroscientists at BAST.
“Music psychologists have proven time and time again, that music can have an effect on our health. So with that in mind, wouldn’t it be great if we could prescribe music to help with certain mood states?”
That’s exactly what they’ve succeeded in doing with Music as Medicine, and some of the results are truly stunning.
In a pre-trial survey of the 7,581 people involved in the project, 89% of the participants said that music was essential to their health and or well-being.
Music for Relaxation
13 minutes was found to be the optimum listening time in the case of music to relax. This kind of music was characterized with a slow tempo, simple melodies and no lyrics, like Weightless, by Marconi Union.
That’s because 79% had reduced muscle tension, 84% had less negative thoughts, and 82% had a better nights sleep or felt restful & contented.
Music for Happiness
For those, like the GNN founder, who prefer dancing to get their cardio benefits, even less music is scientifically found to bring greater power into your legs and happiness into your mind.
After listening to driving rhythm and fast tempo music with happy lyrical content for just 9 minutes, 89% of participants had improved energy levels, 65% laughed more and/or felt happier, 82% felt able to take on anything or felt more in control of their lives.
Music to Process or Release Sadness
Because sadness is very personal, people selected unsurprisingly music with lyrics they connected with. Like listening for relaxation, 13 minutes were found to be enough for optimal benefit.
“Listening to music for sadness caused our listeners to feel a sense of relief, be less overwhelmed, feel more stable and less likely to be triggered by things that reminded them of the issue,” they said.
87% felt more emotionally stable, 84% felt less overwhelmed, a record 91% felt relief & release, while 84% said they came out the other side of their sadness.
While this research may seem like a cool bonus to doing what most of us love to do—listen to music—it’s actually leading to potential therapeutic interventions like this study that used the same tune as Music for Medicine “Weightless” to calm pre-operational anxiety attacks.
The study found that listening to Marconi Union’s track reduced symptoms of anxiety in patients waiting to undergo surgery.
UAMS AGEC (Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative) loves older adults, loyal followers, caregivers, and care recipients!
During this time they know many of you are staying close to home, and due to temporary closures, you’re probably unable to do your normal exercises and classes at your community fitness centers. AGEC wants to help you all stay healthy and active.
On Wednesdays at 11 a.m. (until further notice), they will offer “Ageless Grace” via Facebook Live, click here. If you can’t watch live on Wednesdays at 11 a.m., watch and exercise along with the replay videos on their website series at https://agec.uams.edu/agelessgrace/, as many times as you’d like!
Be sure to tune in this Wednesday, April 1st, at 11 a.m. on Facebook Live for our next brain health exercise!
Yoga with Linda King, Yoga Instructor, Jim Dailey Fitness Center
A singer-songwriter anthropologist who has been experiencing Italy’s coronavirus pandemic reflects on how pandemic-inspired songs connect people and reveal shifting power dynamics.
By Kristina Jacobsen, cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, and singer-songwriter. Jacobsen is an associate professor of music and of anthropology (ethnology) at the University of New Mexico (UNM), her research interests focus on language, identity, and expressive culture.
Since a quarantine was imposed in parts of Italy on March 8 to stop the spread of COVID-19, I’ve been struck by the silence. In a place where people love to engage, touch, talk, and constantly debate, the lack of sound—especially of people’s voices—is eerie.
On the island of Sardinia, where I have lived since June*, the silence is palpable. It seems to weigh on the landscape.
On March 11, the policy of “shelter in place” went from being recommended to being mandatory. All bars, restaurants, cafés, and other “nonessential” businesses were closed until at least April 3.
From my open door in the seaside city of Cagliari, I see only occasional passersby, walking briskly and purposefully down the city’s main shopping street, dutifully clutching their autodichiarazione—papers that justify their reasons for leaving home.
In train cars, grocery stores, and pharmacies, the smell of bleach and hand sanitizer assaults the senses. Strikingly absent is the aroma of strong espresso, usually a ubiquitous part of the city’s olfactory landscape.
City squares are hosed down each night with large water tanks. Police officers patrol the roads. In a city known for its rich and fecund smells, its sensuous approach to life, and its vivid festivals, the streets feel sterile and empty.
But into this void of daily scents and sounds, a multitude of melodies has been born: balcony concerts, recordings, and in-home videos under the hashtags #flashmobsonoro, #iorestoacasa (“I’m staying home”), #lamusicanonsiferma (“the music doesn’t stop”), and #tuttoandràbene (“everything will be OK”).
These performances—original songs, covers, spontaneous performances, and humorous commentaries—are a sonic response to this government-imposed silence. Each of us is reaching out across the ether, from the solitude of our home to someone else in the solitude of their own home.
I came to Sardinia to study the Sardinian language, conduct anthropological fieldwork, and write and record an album with Sardinian songwriters. I was drawn to the intensity of social life on this island, its incredible culture of hospitality, and the profound appreciation people here have for music and sound.
In his song “Su Baballoti” (the cockroach), singer-songwriter Antonio Pani bemoans how the new coronavirus has crept into every corner of Italian social life. Antonio Pani
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended much of that research. But it’s also revealed new and important ways in which music echoes and amplifies the tensions that vibrate through Sardinian daily life. The songs emerging from the quarantine are a profound form of social commentary on Sardinian perspectives of power, relationships to the Italian mainland, and the ways the virus has rocked longstanding ideas of privilege and status between Italy’s north and south.
On March 12, a song arrived on one of the lively WhatsApp groups I am part of. It spoke eloquently of the connectedness of cultures. In the video, Antonio Pani plays an Irish bouzouki in a Sardinian style, wears an Oregon sweatshirt, and sings a Spanish-influenced tune reminiscent of the storytelling corrido ballads of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, where I lived and studied previously.
The style—cantu campidanesu—is a poetic form of song well-known on the island. The genre, called gòcius or gosos, is Iberian in origin, and harkens to a time when Sardinia was colonized by Spain from about 1325 to 1708. It is primarily religious, but in its secular form, a gòcius often satirizes a person or an issue of the day. They can also be songs of protection for people, the harvest, and livestock.
In the song—called “Su Baballoti,” or “the cockroach”—Pani uses the metaphor of a cockroach to convey how the novel coronavirus (sa corona) has crawled into every nook and cranny of everyday life. He references face masks and laments the suspension of kisses during greetings and goodbyes, and the absence of gestures like the brief brush of a hand on an arm to affirm connection.
It reminds me of the day before the lockdown, when I was sitting alone in an outdoor café. A man asked the people at a neighboring table for a light. As he held out his cigarette, his girlfriend reminded him, in Italian: “Respect the social distance of 1 meter.”
Pani plays with the word “corona,” which also means “crown” and symbolizes power. He addresses the novel coronavirus, singing in the southern version of the Sardinian language, Campidanese: “Even if you walk around with a crown / you will never be our king.”
“Even if you walk around with a crown / you will never be our king.”
He describes the powerful ways the pandemic has impacted Sardinia and the northern Italian region of Lombardy. “Italy is in torment,” he sings. “Sardinia has also been affected but not like Lombardia, which remains in our thoughts.”
Then he stares straight at the camera and earnestly sings: “Baballoti, get away from here. You will not win.”
Another song circulating is an example of Sardinia’s traditional cantu a tenòre style, which UNESCO designated an intangible cultural heritage. It imitates a type of rhythmic song that accompanies village dances and features four male voices singing a cappella in Sardinian-inflected Italian and low, guttural voices. The lead singer-songwriter is Sardinian comic and cabaret singer Giuseppe Masia, and his tone is both cheeky and deadly serious.
The song documents the 13,300 Italian northerners who fled to their second homes in Sardinia over the last two weeks, right before the borders of Veneto and Lombardy were cordoned off and declared “red zones.” Thirteen thousand is a number equivalent to all the visitors who come to Sardinia during the Italian vacation months of July and August.
The recent influx has, understandably, been the source of much consternation among Sardinians, who see these “northerners” as the main vectors for the virus.
Masia sings in a strident, nasal voice, with the three accompanying voices pulsating underneath his: “Coronavirus: When you can’t find a face mask anywhere (they were all purchased by Aunt Gavina) / and the people give you dirty looks when you breathe in public.” The song ends with Masia threatening, in a melodramatic style, to shoot any “Milanesi” (people from Milan and elsewhere in the north) he meets on the street.
The situation represents a bizarre reversal of a centuries-old dynamic in which poor southerners, including Sardinians, move to northern Italy for work. (Unemployment in Sardinia right now is over 30 percent.) Northerners have often treated southerners as “hicks,” or terroni (“people of the earth”). They have viewed them as symbolic vectors for poverty and lack of education, and as literal vectors for disease.
And in a perhaps unprecedented moment of reversal, this disease has hit communities of privilege first—in Italy but also elsewhere—and socially marginalized communities last.
On one hand, wealthy northerners recently arrived in Sardinia on ferries with their cars packed full of food, ready to hole up in their beach houses, and either unaware of their privilege or unconcerned that they might bring the disease to an island long perceived by mainlanders as remote and desolate. The Sardi (Sardinians) feel taken advantage of and exploited.
On the other hand, in their quickness to judge their northern neighbors, some Sardi are repeating the exact behavior visited upon them while living on the “continente.”
So, COVID-19 has created a moment of truth, when the tables are finally turned.
But many of these northerners are also Sardinians who live, study, and work in Milan and other industrial centers, send valuable stipends back home, and have claims to family, villages, and homes in Sardinia. So, the people Masia threatens to harm might be members of his extended family.
In a time when the enemy can potentially be anyone, the novel coronavirus is both dividing and dissolving our distinctions between “us” and “them.”
Italy is a place where there is no word for privacy. In Italian, people have to borrow the English word “privacy.” The constant kisses, touches, exclamations, and opinions can at times be overwhelming for newcomers.
But I have never longed for the sense of social overwhelm and intense human contact that I associate with Sardinia like I have during this quarantine.
On March 13, I took part in a #flashmobsonoro. Each participant was supposed to play songs from our balcony for 15 minutes, then post the video to Facebook.
I live in an underground apartment with no windows, so I performed from my doorway, with my dog at my feet. I played four original songs, three country songs in a mix of Sardinian and English, and one folk song in Norwegian. As my Sardinian language teacher taught me, in the chorus I sang:
“Nois tenimos sas istorias nostras / Lassat totu fora s’ajanna / Ca custu sero nudatteru nos importat / Finzas chi sa manu tua istringet sa mia” (We all have our stories / Leave your troubles at the door / Because tonight nothing else matters / Long as my hand is in yours)
It was a breath of fresh air to play live music and to know others were doing the same, somewhere around the corner, across the island, or on the continent. When I finished my set, I looked up at a group of people who gathered to listen, the lit sign of the closed shop behind them glowing above their heads like a halo.
“Grazie,” I heard someone say. I couldn’t see who was speaking, so looked up to a fourth floor balcony. A man in his early 20s waved at me. “Grazie,” he said again. We made eye contact. “De nudda,” I responded in Sardinian. You’re welcome.
Special thanks to ethnomusicologists Marco Lutzu, Diego Pani, Ignazio Cadeddu, and Bastianu Pilosu for their assistance in the translation and interpretation of the songs discussed; to musician Antonio Pani for permission to share his song “Su Baballoti”; and to Radio Limbara for their permission to reprint their meme here. Gratzias!
* Editor’s note: On the advice of the U.S. State Department, the author had to temporarily leave Italy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid getting sick, most of the focus so far has been on preventing exposure to the coronavirus, which, of course, is very important—staying at home, social distancing, hand washing, gloves, masks, disinfecting, etc.
But very little has been written about the other half of the equation: how to enhance your immune system so that if you are exposed, you can reduce the chances of getting sick—or at least mitigate the intensity of the disease and thus reduce the death rate.
The four aspects of our lifestyle medicine program—eat well, move more, stress less, love more—have been proven to reverse a wide variety of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, early-stage prostate cancer, and hypertension. They also enhance immune function.
Here are some relevant studies:
1. Love More:
Spreading fear and loathing about the coronavirus may, ironically, increase the risk of getting sick. Fear can be self-fulfilling to the extent that it does suppress immune function and makes someone more likely to get the very disease they’re most afraid of.
Also, staying at home and social distancing help prevent transmission of the virus, but feeling lonely can be harmful to your health. Study after study have shown that people who are lonely and isolated are 3-10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely of virtually all causes when compared to those who have a strong sense of love and community.
Fortunately, there are many things we can do to enhance our immune function to help protect us. While it’s important to stay at home, wash your hands, disinfect, etc., it’s also wise to spend more time socializing with family members who are living with you as well using video or just audio technologies like Zoom or the phone to virtually spend time with friends and family in other places.
For example, Sheldon Cohen did a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in which he dripped rhinovirus (which causes the common cold) in the noses of volunteers. (I don’t know how he persuaded people to volunteer and got this approved by the human studies committee….) All of them became infected, but not everyone developed the signs and symptoms of a cold.
Those that had only 1-3 social ties—defined as a phone call or visit from a friend every two weeks—were 4.2 times more likely to develop a cold than those with 6 or more social ties during that time. (Now, just visit friends virtually rather than in person.) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/417085
2. Stress Less:
In an earlier study, Cohen dripped five types of respiratory viruses (rhinovirus type 2, 9, or 14, respiratory syncytial virus, or coronavirus type 229E, a less deadly form than the current coronavirus) into volunteers. The rates of both respiratory infection and clinical colds increased significantly in a dose-response manner with increases in the degree of psychological stress. Infection rates ranged from approximately 74 percent to approximately 90 percent, according to levels of psychological stress, and the incidence of clinical colds ranged from approximately 27 percent to 47 percent.
In other words, stress suppressed their immune function. Because of this, the more stressed they felt, the more likely they were to get infected and sick. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199108293250903
And in a more recent study, he found that those who he infected with rhinoviruses who had positive emotions such as happy, pleased, and relaxed had a 2.9 times lower risk of developing a cold than those who did not in a dose-response fashion.
In contrast, when you’re depressed, your immune system is depressed as well. In a different study by Margaret Chesney and others, men who were HIV positive (i.e., all had evidence of being infected with the HIV virus) and were depressed were significantly more likely to develop AIDS and die from it than those who were not depressed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8885823
So, I put all of this together to say that it does make very good sense to be mindful of reducing risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus by staying at home, social distancing, hand washing, gloves, masks, disinfecting, etc.) without becoming afraid or depressed. And to spend more time virtually in loving relationships with friends and family; eating well; moving more; and stressing less.
In short, enhancing our immune system can help us to be less “influenced” by the influenza virus.
Finding meaning in situations, especially bad ones, also helps enhance our immune system. With all the tragedy of the coronavirus, is there anything meaningful that comes from it?
First, for those of us who work too much, being at home and being told not to go to work or to travel gives everyone a valid rationale to spend more time with our friends and family, both in-person with those you live with and also virtually with others. No FOMO if everything is cancelled. You don’t have to give an excuse at work to stay home.
Also, having a common enemy can help heal some of the wounds that divide our country. These are profoundly human issues that affect everyone in all states, both red and blue.
It reminds me a little of the classic science fiction movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which an intelligent alien comes to Earth to warn everyone of the importance of living peacefully. He caused all mechanical and electrical machines to stop for an hour to get everyone’s attention. Our world this week is also stopping—for much more than an hour—and it’s getting everyone’s attention as well.
And, finally, having so much less traffic and manufacturing is also giving the Earth a chance to breathe and heal, at least temporarily. A literal breather.
The Mindfulness Program and UAMS has graciously allowed their certified professionals to come and offer Mindfulness Sessions to all UAMS employees and students. Check out the recordings below if you missed out!
Normally we have over 100 FREE videos to watch and/or participate with on our YouTube Channel. We hope to have all the videos available again ASAP.
TaiChiHealthProducts.org shares a FREE daily exercise for Staying Healthy, especially for those stuck at home. The easy flowing individual Tai Chi movements can help calm the mind while circulating Chi (the vital Life Force) throughout the body. Please share this video. You can also find over 30 free practice videos with instructions on our YouTube Channel – youtube.com/taichihealthproducts.
And for those who have Amazon or YouTube on their television, search “Don Fiore Tai Chi.”
Sending prayers for the health of all people. Stay positive because that is helpful for the immune system.
Question from recent Q&A – “Isn’t it bad to strengthen your immune system when you have autoimmune disease? I thought that was why we have to take immunosuppressant medication.” Medications can suppress your immune system – which can be life-saving when you are severely ill from autoimmune disease, but also leaves you susceptable to infections. The #GoodbyeLupusProtocol uses nutrition to suppress the inflammatory immune response and strengthen the anti-inflammatory immune response, so you can get your health back and not need those medicines any longer. Caution: Please do not change, taper or stop medications without consulting your prescribing doctor, this can be dangerous for your health. Work on getting healthy so you don’t need them anymore and let your doctor taper you when you are ready!
For coronavirus info and updates: goodbyelupus.com/coronavirus