Dr Ruth Herbert, a music psychology expert and director of research at CMAT, provides her advice on how music can help improve your wellbeing during the COVID-19 lockdown.
‘Over just a few weeks COVID-19 has had a profound impact upon the way we’re able to live our lives. One of the most frustrating and anxiety-provoking features is the restriction of previously taken for granted civil liberties – from being able to travel freely (in the UK and abroad), to meeting friends for a drink, attending public events (concerts or the theatre) or simply going to the gym. Free choice – at least for now – seems a distant dream, with implications for our personal wellbeing. In uncertain times, music provides a powerful tool for temporarily escaping lockdown, providing psychological and physiological support, giving us back a sense of control.’
Ruth’s top five tips are:
- Experiment with including your favourite music (or tracks from online playlists) as part of a relaxation or meditation routine, or simply to provide a space to cut off and just ‘be’. Listening to slow, quiet music with a low rate of change can increase activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing heart rate and inducing a state of calmness.
- Bypass travel restrictions and engage in some virtual journeying, courtesy of your music collection and imagination (no screen-time required). Music provides a powerful anchor to associations and memories, including vivid recollection of specific places and positive events.
- Use music to pace the day, structuring daily routines, providing motivation to complete mundane tasks and energising cardio workouts, whether a private aerobics session or a 5K run. Cross-culturally, humans demonstrate the capacity to move to rhythmic sounds and music can replace one perceived time frame with another.
- Escape isolation, get social and connect with others through some virtual music-making. Social media channels offer an expanding range of virtual ensemble opportunities, including the University of Kent’s own Virtual Music Project.
- Take up an instrument you’ve always been meaning to learn, or rediscover an instrument you used to play. There’s a wealth of online tuition resources available for self-study, plus many top-rated musicians are currently offering remote lessons. A regular focus on developing a new skill can provide a space for mental freedom where worries and concerns are temporarily set aside.
This article originally appeared on the Kent News Centre: