March 16, 2021

Musing on music!

Music might be a great resource for shifting cravings or lifting mood.

This week’s blog has me musing on the power of music to change our mood and how it might help with mastering cravings and recovery. I enjoy music but am sadly not musical myself. I did get grade 3 clarinet at school but only so I could get out of PE lessons! However, I’ve always had an interest in how music can affect us emotionally and physiologically. Forty years ago, this summer I was taking A level biology and for my practical exam I rigged up my school friends to a respirator and heart rate monitor and played various tunes to them via headphones!  The hilarious bouncing song from Not the Nine O’clock news   then some classical music and something else (probably the Stranglers-my favourite at the time), I can’t remember! There was a quite a big difference between the tracks in terms of breathing and heart rate. 

I’ve also noticed how much faster I can run when listening to a good thumping tune with the right beat. Or that music can take you right back emotionally to certain times and places. The Stranglers have me with my 18-year-old self, Take That with my 25-year-old self. My tastes are quite eclectic as you see!

Our middle child was so sensitive to music before he had language that he would cry when sad piano music came on the radio. He’s favourite track at the time was Mambo number 5! I can’t help but smile when I remember him toddler dancing to this

Whilst investigating for The Fork in the Road, I came across research showing that listening or playing music can increase serotonin and endorphins. So even those of us who are not musical should be able to make use of that. Oxytocin comes from closeness to others so group singing and music making fit the bill perfectly. Also, if you are learning music and notice improvements it will be another source of dopamine, the reward transmitter. So music can give you your daily DOSE (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins) of neurotransmitters.

Maybe you are musical and already use that as part of your recovery or maybe like me you just enjoy listening and could use that more. Molly Painschab and Siobhan Harris are two food addiction colleagues I know who both do this. Maybe make a playlist of your most uplifting tracks and have a listen and dance about when the cravings strike? Play music more whilst you do other tasks? Pick a tune that takes you back to a happy time if you are struggling? I’ve started a Food Addiction Recovery playlist over on Spotify that is ‘open’ so you can listen and even add your own tracks to share with others. Look forward to listening and sharing!

Try to incorporate activities that boost each neurotransmitter every day: your daily dose of feel good!


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