CaringBridge Shares the Positive Power of Music in 3 New Playlists

Music and Healing: Expressing Feelings Through Music (+ Three Healing Playlists)

CaringBridge Staff | 02.20.24

Music is a language that speaks to the heart of human experience. It’s a companion in joy and a solace in sorrow, a celebration of love and an expression of heartbreak.

Throughout our lives, music serves as a backdrop to our most significant moments. Music takes on a profound role in times of hardship, particularly during health journeys. This is true no matter the health issue, be it a long-term hospital stay or a new diagnosis.

So, let’s dive into the therapeutic power of music, exploring how melodies and rhythms can support healing. Uncover the harmonious relationship between music and healing and how it can be a crucial ally in your journey. Plus, discover three playlists created by the CaringBridge community to encourage healing.

Does Music Have an Effect on Healing?

Music’s influence extends far beyond entertainment; it’s a powerful force in the healing process. Throughout history, various cultures have used music for its therapeutic qualities. They tap into the ability to evoke emotions, soothe the mind, and help alleviate physical pain.

From ancient civilizations to modern medicine, the therapeutic effects of music have been recognized and utilized across cultures and eras. Whether it’s melodies that reduce anxiety or upbeat tunes that uplift spirits, music affects our brains and bodies. It can help regulate emotions, decrease stress levels and even alter our perception of pain.

This isn’t just assumed. Numerous studies have shown measurable changes in stress hormones, brainwave patterns and pain perception when individuals engage with music.

The beauty of music in the healing journey lies in its versatility. It can be tailored to individual needs and preferences, making it a uniquely personal form of therapy.

Music and mental health

The connection between music and mental health is well-established in scientific research. Studies have shown that music can play a crucial role in coping with stress, processing emotions, and even dealing with trauma. Here are some examples:

  • Coping with stress: Research indicates that listening to music can significantly reduce stress levels. A study published in PLoS One found that music directly affects the stress response, particularly in lowering levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone).
  • Processing emotions and trauma: Music therapy has been proven effective in helping individuals process emotions and trauma. Research from the Health Psychology Review highlighted the positive effects of music interventions on stress-related outcomes.
  • Supporting mental health in clinical settings: In clinical settings, music interventions are used to reduce anxiety before medical procedures. This was documented in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. This finding demonstrates music’s potential not only in day-to-day stress relief but also in its usefulness in more high-stress situations.

Music offers a form of expression most people can relate to. This can be especially powerful for those on a health journey.

Music and physical health

The influence of music on physical health, particularly in patients with chronic conditions, is an area of growing interest in medical research. Studies have highlighted how music may play a role in improving physical health outcomes:

  • Relief in chronic pain: Listening to music has been found to offer relief in cases of chronic pain. A comprehensive resource provided by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) discusses various studies on this topic. They indicate that music can help reduce pain intensity levels and improve overall quality of life for chronic pain sufferers.
  • Support for cancer patients: Music therapy is increasingly recognized as a supportive care option for cancer patients. It may assist in alleviating symptoms related to cancer treatment, such as nausea, and it may also improve psychological well-being. It can also create a sense of normalcy and relaxation.
  • Enhancing recovery post-surgery: Music has also shown promise in enhancing recovery post-surgery by lowering stress, reducing pain perception and sometimes even decreasing the need for pain medication. Music can contribute significantly to the recovery process.

These findings suggest that incorporating music into treatment and recovery plans for people experiencing various physical health challenges can be beneficial. It offers a non-invasive, low-risk supplement to traditional medical care.

How Expressing Feelings Through Music Supports Coping Skills

Expressing feelings through music can be a powerful tool in coping with challenges. Whether as a patient or caregiver, engaging with the right music can provide a therapeutic outlet for emotions.

Music can validate difficult emotions.

For someone experiencing grief or hardship, such as the loss of a loved one, music can be profoundly validating. It reminds them that their feelings of sorrow, anger or confusion are normal and shared by others. This connection through music can be a crucial step in the healing process.

It can mirror our feelings, helping us to process and articulate emotions that might be difficult to express in words.

Songs can act as an expressive outlet.

Music also serves as a therapeutic outlet. Creating or listening to music allows individuals to channel their emotions constructively. Engaging with music, perhaps by playing an instrument or simply listening, can offer a sense of release and relief.

“[Music] calms me, relieves tension, reminds me of my mother who sang and played the piano.”

Laurel D.

Music can help people process hard experiences.

Music can assist in the processing of difficult experiences. For many people, music provides them with a structure to understand and communicate their feelings.

“Music allows me a way to process my emotions and work through them with regards to healing. It’s also fun. I can also listen to music that conveys the emotion or cadence I wish to be in. Listening to calming music, for example.”

-Greg F.

Music can help some people connect with their faith or spirituality.

For those who find strength in spirituality or religion, music can be a bridge to their faith. It can also be a means for people to reconnect with their faith, finding solace in familiar spiritual songs.

“I find different music helps at different difficult times. One of my favorite genres is Gospel music, especially old time traditional hymns – these bring me peace of mind.”

-Nancy C.

Songs can provide hope.

Listening to music that speaks of overcoming can reinforce the idea that others have faced similar challenges and have found a way through.

Personally, I find that songs with meaningful lyrics and a gentle melody are particularly comforting during tough times. They act as a reminder that challenges are a universal part of the human experience, and that resilience and hope are always within reach.

How To Combine Music and Healing During a Health Journey

Integrating music into one’s health journey can provide comfort and strength, whether as a patient or caregiver. Here are some ways to effectively use music in this context:

Find a playlist that resonates with you.

Discovering a playlist that aligns with your emotions or current state of mind can be incredibly therapeutic. Many music streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple Music offer pre-made playlists for different moods and situations. These playlists can be a convenient way to access music that resonates with your needs.

Explore the CaringBridge community playlists.

We asked the CaringBridge community to share songs that have helped them during a difficult time. To listen, visit three music and healing playlists from CaringBridge on Spotify. Here are the links:

Create your own playlist.

Creating a personal playlist that have a particular meaning or evoke specific emotions. This can be a healing process as you select music that speaks to your journey. You can include songs that remind you of happy times, inspire hope or help you process complex feelings.

Explore music therapy options

If feasible, music therapy, conducted by certified music therapists, can be an effective tool. It involves using music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs.

You can explore local music therapy services or ask your healthcare provider for recommendations. This therapy can be tailored to individual needs, making it a versatile option for people experiencing many different kinds of health journeys.

About CaringBridge

CaringBridge is a no-cost, nonprofit health platform that surrounds family caregivers with support while they care for a loved one on a health journey. The organization offers tools to share and document a health journey, simplify care coordination, and connect caregivers with a supportive community. CaringBridge addresses feelings of overwhelm, isolation, and loneliness by improving emotional health and social connectedness, helping people come together in support of healing. To learn more, visit

How Does Music Help You During a Hard Time?

Our discussion on music and healing shows that music is a practical tool for nearly anyone. Whether facing health challenges personally or as a caregiver, music provides a straightforward way to cope with stress and emotional turmoil.

The power of music lies in its simplicity and accessibility. You can listen to a song that brings comfort, create a personal playlist for difficult days or seek music therapy. These actions are direct and effective ways to use music for emotional and physical support.

We encourage you to consider how music fits your life during challenging periods. Is there a particular song that helps you feel understood?

Sharing your experiences can be helpful as a reflection for yourself and as guidance for others navigating their health journeys.

Beth Hilton
Beth Hilton
Beth has decades of journalistic experience, both as an entertainment writer (Film, TV, Books, Music) and as a music publicist; she holds a B. A. in Communications from Temple University in Philadelphia, has lived in Los Angeles for 30 years, and has formal training in reviewing the arts.  She is now the owner and publisher of Contemporary Fusion Reviews magazine

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