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Music and Mental Well-being amidst the Coronavirus pandemic

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With global lockdowns in place to prevent the transmission of the Coronavirus, financial concerns, and job losses top the list of anxieties for almost all. Not knowing how this pandemic will play out or when it will end is causing economic, physical and mental upheavals.

Working from home is not the same as being out on the field. Especially for someone whose professional life is based on public appreciation. No musician would like to interact with his audience while being in front of a screen. The ‘likes’, ‘hearts’, ‘claps’ in the notifications can never make up for the applause received at the end of a show. They are humans replete with emotions similar to all.

With limited resources to present their art during this Coronavirus pandemic, musicians can be more susceptible to fear, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, depression, addictions, and even suicidal thoughts. The importance of the mental well-being of musicians should be addressed now, more so than ever.

A music industry executive also deals with similar pressures. If a musician is expected to churn out hit songs, the executives are expected to ensure the song reaches the masses and is already a ‘hit’ before it is released. The revenue factor also plays its role.

“Overcoming these thoughts is a very individualistic process. There are people who are referred to as ‘worried well’. These are people who do not need medical treatment, but visit the doctor to be reassured. Some are more than worried about losing recognition. An artist will naturally be worried about losing his audience. Not all of their audience would be focused on music right now and might ignore or miss out on their music. This leads to a feeling of rejection,” explained Dr. Vivek Anand, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Hinduja Hospital.

Further stressing on his remark, Anand said,

“If their art is the only mode of income, losing it could be a great cause of anxiety and fear. If one pursues art just for passion these thoughts might not come up.”

Behavioural changes due to lock-downs

Social distancing and lock-downs, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, have resulted in people suffering from behavioural changes. Some may feel that “we’re all in this together” and find ways to fight the novel Coronavirus while others have discovered a slower pace of life and by being forced to remains indoors have found more time for family, and pets.

“These days we’re confined to our homes due to the coronavirus outbreak. So it’s important to maintain a fixed sleep-awake cycle and stick to a regular routine. Take this time to invest in hobbies and the creative arts,” said Dr. Samir Parikh, head of Mental health Department, Fortis Healthcare, Delhi.

Supplementing Dr. Parikh’s thought, Dr. Chintan Naik, Clinical Psychologist at Apex Hospitals drew up a few pointers to aid musicians during these unsettling times.

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The pitfalls of self-isolation or social lock-down are aggravated by fear of contracting the infection or running out of necessities, inadequate information or expecting financial losses. A sense of hopelessness and lack of control often leads to psychological stress. Fear of the unknown can often lead to panic, in a world that is increasingly anxious, unhappy and lonely.

“How an artist has overcome failures in his past will play a big part in dealing with this fear. It is very easy for a struggling artist to attract negativity in such an atmosphere. Such artists need to surround themselves with positive and helpful people who believe in their art,” stressed Dr. Anand.

Indulging in music to deal with Coronavirus

Music is known to be more than just a form of entertainment. Indian classical music is said to be scientific by nature. There are many ‘raagas’ that are played or heard to ease mental stress. Music and it’s different genres can physically and mentally impact people in multiple ways.

“Music helps you relax as well as to improve your mood. Instrumental music can also be a great way to boost your focus. Exercising at this time is important – dance to your favourite music to get some much needed physical activity. This can also be a great time to learn a new skill,” emphasised Dr. Parikh who has associated with Tips Music to promote their Music 4 Mental Health initiative.

Listening to and creating music can have various positive effects on mood and mental health. Incorporating music into your everyday life can help to:

Music and mental healing

Music can help in elevating the mood during a crisis like the Coronavirus pandemic. One can practice singing the ‘saptak’ or the seven notes from the musical scale. Each of the 7 notes, sa..re..ga..ma..pa.. dha.. ni.. sa, are associated with each of the 7 chakras in the body. This can be a daily tune-up of the chakras.

Singer/songwriter Pragnya Wakhlu who also conducts various mental wellness camps and sessions using sound healing techniques highlighted some of them,

“432 Hz music is said to resonate inside the body, releasing emotional blockages and aligning you with the heartbeat of the universe. The music is said to heighten perception, increase mental clarity and unlock intuition. The intent of the musician recording the music is often toward using that music for healing purposes. So, people are responding with good results. If we combined healing music recorded at a 432 with the intent of healing purposes, there might be less ‘dis- ease’ in our world.”

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So next time you turn on some music, don’t be afraid to try something new. Maybe listen to a genre that you outgrew or lost track of. Listen to what the millennials do for a change.

But either way, keep listening to music, keep your good vibes going, and release those endorphins!

Let’s fight the Coronavirus with music.

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