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3 Simple Ways to Use Music as Part of Your Self-Care Plan

As we move through our often hectic lives, music is all around us. There is rhythm in a crowd crossing a busy street or a yoga class moving through a Sun Salutation, melodies in the cacophony of taxi horns or birds singing in the early morning. We hear music in stores, in subways, and when on hold on the phone – sometimes whether we want to or not! As I once heard years ago “we either use music or it uses us” – so let’s take back music as a way to care for ourselves, in a gentle and meaningful way.

Music can be a valuable and easily available tool for self-care. Musical self-care can be quick and easy, and you don’t need a lot of equipment or time. As with any other kind of self-care, small things done consistently can be really helpful (i.e. do one stretch each morning vs. waiting for your monthly yoga class) Here are 3 simple ideas to try today:

1. Pay attention to your own rhythms, and the rhythms around you. Remember that we as humans are composed of rhythmic patterns – the way we walk, talk, gesture, and breathe is all rhythm. Notice when your body’s rhythms feel rushed and pressured, or relaxed and easy. Notice where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re with. You can even try noticing the rhythms of those you spend time with – what are those rhythms like? The simple act of noticing – a key aspect of mindfulness - can help you slow down a bit.

2. Develop personalized playlists. It can be very useful to have several different playlists at the ready. Think about when you need some music in your day – could be to relax when you’re stressed, energize during your morning focus on paperwork, or sleep at night. Play around with different styles of music and find what works for you. Notice if songs vs. purely instrumental pieces affect you differently.

3. Just listen. Put on a favorite song/instrumental piece. Put on headphones or earbuds if you’re in a loud place. Allow yourself to just listen, without simultaneously checking your email or answering a text. Notice any thoughts, emotions, physical sensations that come up as you listen. Notice your breath. If you find yourself drifting away, just gently guide yourself back to your breath and to the music you hear.

Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT is a music therapist and psychotherapist in New York City. She helps women uncover and understand what’s holding them back, while nurturing creative and powerful growth in relationships, work, and everyday life. Maya also offers engaging presentations for healthcare professionals, educators, and stressed out adults in the NY tri-state area. Get Maya’s free guided relaxation audio track to slow down and practice meaningful self-care today:

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