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4 strategies to influence pain with music

Music can positively influence pain in many ways. When you feel pain, there are different networks in your brain that 'talk' to each other and cause pain. This happens unconsciously, so unfortunately you can't just 'think' the pain away. Telling yourself that the pain has to stop, or hearing this from others, does not help.

Pain has much more to do with feeling than thinking. It helps, above all, to see how you can change the way you feel. And music is very good for that! Think about it yourself, you surely know the feeling that you suddenly feel much happier when one of your favorite songs is playing on the radio. Especially if you have good memories of that song! Since positive feelings are not accompanied by feelings of pain, it can have a direct impact on your pain. 


Four strategies for using music for pain

The following are several ways you can use music to affect your pain.

1. (Learn) to play an instrument.
Making your own music is a very powerful way to get other networks in your brain active. Networks that have nothing to do with pain! Your brain also makes many new connections when you (learn to) play an instrument, so the parts that cause pain fade into the background even faster. 

Tip: Even when playing an instrument, make sure that you build up the activity at rest. Especially with instruments that require you to be in good shape!

2. Make a list of music that you have good (childhood) memories of.
When you are in pain or not feeling well for a while, turn on the music. Your brain will automatically associate positive feelings with the music that has great meaning for you. 

3. If you want to get the most out of this music, you can do the following: close your eyes while listening to the music and repeat in your mind the beautiful events that go along with the music. This is called visualizing. Visualizing is a very powerful way to evoke positive feelings. 

Tip: The most powerful positive emotion known to humans is gratitude. The brain networks of gratitude are very far removed from the networks that cause pain. It can feel a little crazy, but talking inside (or saying out loud) what moments you are grateful for helps get the feeling!

4. A nice tip that someone with pain wrote about recently is to use music to determine how long you can do certain activities.
Let's say you know that when you clean, you want to take about a five minute break after every fifteen minutes. Then you create a playlist (on Spotify, for example) that plays different uplifting songs for about 15 minutes. These 15 minutes are followed by 5 minutes of relaxing music, during which you take a break yourself. After that, music that goes well with being active comes again, alternating with rest. You can even create different playlists for different activities! 

In short, music offers many ways to relieve pain. Conscious use of music can really make a difference!

4 strategies to influence pain with music

More guidance on how to decrease your pain