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Zen & M’s: Rocking out

Caitlin O'Keeffe

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This week, Caitlin talks about why music is the best therapy.

This week’s Zen & M’s was written a little bit later than I usually like. In part, this was due to a busy Sunday eating Easter candy and watching Game of Thrones (finally, I am whole again), but a big part of the delay came from attending the Watsky concert at the Paradise Rock Club on Monday night. And, if I may say, he was amazing.

I came home feeling great, and I felt great through Tuesday, even though I was exhausted. Music makes me just as happy as working out does, as those of you who know me are already aware of. I love singing in Muses, playing my cello, composing occasionally and listening to music on my runs and in my daily life. Music gets me through both my workouts and my daily life, so this seemed like the perfect week to explore why.

Music helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which is always something I can get behind. One source even reported that music works as well as a massage to reduce stress. Music is also known to improve memory, reduce pain by acting as a distraction from it and aid antibody production, thus boosting your immune system.

This may be old news to some of you, and some of you may have even heard of music therapy. Music works so well as a form of therapy because it accesses your brain’s reward centers. Listening to music causes the release of hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin, which all contribute to happiness.

If you’re interested in exploring your own personal musical therapy, the first step is to listen to your body and start moving to the music. Also, music therapist Jennifer Buchanan says that going to live music and actively engaging in listening to it is important to receive the rewards of music therapy. I personally can attest to this after Watsky. I love listening to his albums while I do my homework, but listening to him live brought me right into the moment. Also, if you want to relax, find a song between 60-90 beats per minute.

Speaking of beats per minute, if you sync up the beats per minute of a song with the pace of your workout, studies have shown that you exercise more efficiently. You may not know off the top of your head exactly how fast your playlist is going, but you can definitely search the internet for the bpm of your favorite songs, or refer to sites like this one which create playlists for you depending on the workout you are planning.

Well, what are you still doing here? Go listen to some music! There even happens to be an A Cappella concert I’m performing in this Saturday at 7:30 on the Mainstage…


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Zen & M’s: Rocking out