Throughout history, music has been used to soothe the brain and clear the mind. It is a powerful tool that can bring calmness and relaxation to anyone who hears it. But how can it be used as a coping mechanism in the modern day to aid pet loss grief?Simply put, just listen to it. Many people use music to assist them in times of grief by turning on some tunes. This can be especially prevalent when losing a pet. Keep reading to find out how music can support you through your grief journey.
A Connection to the Brain
Music is directly connected to grief and other emotions in the brain. Similar to other activities such as playing games or eating comfort food, listening to music can activate pleasure areas in your brain. Once activated, these parts of your brain release neurotransmitters such as dopamine that make you feel happy. Interestingly enough, music is a great option to make yourself feel better, especially when compared to other activities. Many people rely on harmful activities such as drug use or excessive shopping to feel pleasure. Music can be a very healthy alternative to give you the same feeling of pleasure when dealing with pet loss grief.
Concentration & Memory
Certain types of music are known to help concentration and memory. This is why many people listen to music while working or studying. Grief is known to prevent concentration and block your mind, making thinking clearly a difficult task. So, putting on some tunes while you are trying to concentrate can significantly help. In addition to the chemical changes that occur in your brain, music can also act as a temporary distraction from grieving and allow you to focus on the task at hand. On the flip side, music can also be used to spur memories. A common fear that people going through pet loss grief share is forgetting their pet. A healthy way to relieve this fear is to use music to stimulate memories of the past, keeping your joy alive.
According to the University of Nevada, slower songs (those around 60 beats per minute) can cause alpha brainwaves. Alpha brainwaves are what we experience when we are relaxing while conscious. Simply listening to a slow song can release anxiety and stress and make you feel relaxed. Studies show that music using stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes is very effective to release stress. Even the sounds of rain and thunder can be relaxing when mixed with jazz or classical music. If your pet's passing is leaving you feeling overwhelmed, listening to music is an easy, free, and accessible option to relieve some anxiety or stress while still healthily experiencing grief.
Grief and Depression
Grief affects almost all parts of daily life, so let's see how music can diminish its effects in different ways. Losing your 4-legged friend can cause prolonged stages of sadness and depression. However, listening to music can also play a role in your emotions and make you feel happier. For example, upbeat and fast music can energize and wake you up. One study posted by the National Library of Medicine compared the thoughts and reactions of two groups of people. Both groups were asked to look at a neutral face after listening to music. The group that listened to upbeat music generally thought the neutral face was expressing happiness, while the group that listened to melancholy music thought the person behind the face was sad. This study helps point out the significance music can have on your behavior and mood, and how it can improve your mental health.
Give it a try
Music is an easily accessible tool that can improve mental health and relieve the symptoms of grief while still allowing you to heal properly. Spending just 15 minutes a day listening to music or meditating with tunes in the background can greatly improve your health. If you've recently lost a pet and are experiencing grief, try out some of these musical therapy techniques. Our team here at River Valley Gateway is always here to help.
If you're still struggling to understand what you're going through, take a look at our Grief Process blog here.