Australians are struggling to cope with recent world events, with around 13% reporting high or very high levels of psychological stress. In New Zealand, the situation is also somewhat worrisome, with around 31% reporting some level of stress. It isn’t only adults who are affected. Even prior to this year, teen stress rivalled that of adults, with issues such as academic and sporting pressure weighing on their minds.
Parents wishing to help their children improve their mental health often look to natural yet effective ways to lower stress levels. Some of the most powerful methods studied to date include mindfulness based activities like meditation, time spent in nature, a healthy diet, exercise and music - both as a hobby and in the form of therapy.
In music therapy, people can partake in activities as simple as listening to specific songs or sounds - including the sounds in nature and crystal sounds. On one study conducted by Taiwanese researchers, listening to music that mimics the heart rate (with between 60 and 80bpm) reduced stress, anxiety and depression after just two weeks.
The study shows that human beings can benefit passively as well as actively from music - which is excellent news for children who prefer to enjoy existing music rather than reproduce it.
Musical Learning As A Stress Buster
Another study by the Society for Research in Child Development found that arts programs that include music (as well as other creative media such as dance and visual arts) can help lower the stress levels of economically disadvantaged preschoolers. In the study, children were assigned to either an arts program or a control group.
Their saliva was sampled to test for levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The scientists found that children who took part in creative pursuits like music had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who studied traditional subjects.
Online learning can be just as beneficial as traditional lessons for this. Children wishing to master musical instruments like the guitar, violin or piano, can do so progressively and steadily, setting themselves goals and choosing more complex pieces when they master basic skills.
Those who love to sing may opt for voice instead, working on aspects such as expanding their vocal range, learning different singing styles, and training their ear to translate musical notation into sound.
Music Can Help Quell Stress For Children With Autism
Research published in the Social Sciences & Humanities Journal has found that weekly music therapy sessions can significantly benefit children with autism. Their study, carried out on a group of children, showed improvements in attentiveness and focus.
The researchers reported that music can be used in a holistic fashion, targeting the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of children. Music soothes stress, promotes wellness, helps quell pain, improves memory and communication, and can be a big help during activities that can be stressful and challenging - including physical rehabilitation.
Music is a healer for adults and children alike. It has been found to reduce stress, but also has a plethora of additional benefits that make it an important addition to our daily lives.
If your child is facing a particularly stressful period in their lives, embrace creative pursuits such as music, which can be so much fun that they capture children in a ‘zone’ in which time seems to stop and rhythm and melody take over.