It may not be the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of period pain remedies, but listening to music can help you manage physical ailments, including the ones that come from PMS and menstruation.
Music is a critical component of everyday life. It helps us wake up and go to sleep. It can spur relaxation or movement – rest or motivation. It is a powerful influencer in human emotions, and can quickly and easily shift our mood.
Music can move people. It can bring a smile to a face, tears to the eyes; music can make us laugh and motivate us to overcome obstacles. But did you know that the power of music can even reduce the perception of pain?
In other words, if you’re searching for a more holistic, unmedicalized way to heal, music may just be the restorative cure-all you’ve been waiting for.
A powerful alternative to medication
Several studies have suggested that the soothing effect of music (or music-induced analgesia) may be secondary to cognitive and emotional effects that arise from listening to music: distraction from the pain, pleasantness, and pleasure, memory evoked emotions and relaxation.
Music therapy has been shown to lower stress, enhance comfort and manage pain for people of all ages, genders and races. While many skeptics may dismiss the holistic approach of music for pain relief, the use of music to alleviate symptoms and promote well-being is becoming an increasingly legitimate health tool.
As the understanding of pain has evolved, so has the understanding of music’s role in pain therapy. Music is low- to no-cost, has no side effects, provides a welcome distraction from painful sensations, and has been shown to reduce both subjective ratings of pain and feelings of distress.
As an alternative to medication, non-chemical pain management technique, music also plays an undeniable role in pain management, beyond personal testimonials of pain reduction after listening to music. It is also developing a reputation as a healing agent for those who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression.
Recent studies have found that music activates areas of the brain associated with reward, emotion, and arousal. Music might be effective at lessening pain and improving coping, as it may prompt the release of the body’s own opioids (pain-reducing chemicals).
Research looking at the link between listening to music and pain tolerance suggests that it is not only effective in relieving acute and chronic pain, but can also help patients manage anxiety and depression.
According to one study from 2012 , two daily sessions of music listening helped a sample of chronic pain patients relieve symptoms related to conditions such fibromyalgia, inflammatory disease, or neurological conditions, as well as the anxiety and depression linked to chronic pain.
Participants listening to happy music reported having greater pain control and being able to handle pain longer.
Helps you manage suffering
Part of the appeal of using music listening to relieve pain is that it is a simple and cost-effective approach that can be tailored to the needs of individual patients. Since emotion and pain are strongly linked, music that resonates with positive emotions triggers positive memories can also affect mood and the ability to handle pain.
Listening to pleasant music can also influence how we perceive the passing of time: pleasant memories make time fly faster than unpleasant memories.
Just as your favorite tunes can motivate you during a workout, the right kind of music can help ease pain when it’s the temporary discomfort of menstruation.
Whatever the kind of music people in pain prefer, its value as a way to help manage suffering cannot be underestimated.
Musical components, like the frequencies and vibrations of binaural beats and ultrasound, are increasingly used in cutting-edge medical treatments that have the ability to correct issues in the body without the use of potentially dangerous drugs or surgeries.
Compile your own period playlist
There is no one kind of music that everyone finds soothing or beneficial in reducing pain. Start by identifying the type of music that soothes you the most and makes you feel comfortable. This might be anything – classical music, jazz, rock ‘n roll, even rap.
Once you see how music works its magic, you can put together a personal playlist — a music therapy “prescription” that you can tap into whenever you need it for better pain management.
So when the pain gets you down, seek out the music you find the most soothing and hum, drum, or sing along, or if needed, work with a music therapist who can help you tap into music's pain-relief power.
If you are experiencing pain, tension or discomfort, try our Pain Relief download or a set of binaural beats composed especially for menstrual cramps to practice a holistic, safe approach to healing.
Or listen to this special period mix – a playlist made up exclusively for women on period, by women on period. Enjoy!