Four strategies to use music in influencing pain

8 min. reading time

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 'think away' the pain just like that. Saying to yourself that the pain has to stop, or hearing this from others, doesn't help.

Pain has much more to do with feeling than thinking. Above all, it helps to see how you can change your feelings. And let music be very suitable for that! Think about it for yourself, you probably know the feeling that you can suddenly feel a lot happier when one of your favourite songs comes on the radio. Especially if you have good memories of this song! Because positive feelings do not go hand in hand with feelings of pain, it can have a direct influence on your pain. 

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Four strategies to use music in case of pain
Below are the different ways in which you can use music to help you influence your pain.

1. (Learn) to play an instrument. Making your own music is a very powerful way to make 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 that the parts that cause pain disappear even faster into the background. 

Tip: When playing an instrument, also make sure that you build up the activity calmly. Especially instruments that require a good physical condition!

2. Make a list of music you have good (childhood) memories of. If you are in pain, or if you are not feeling well for a while, turn on the music. Your brain will automatically link positive feelings to the music, which has a lot of 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 with the music. This is called visualising. Visualising is a very powerful way to evoke positive feelings. 

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

4. A nice tip someone in pain wrote about recently is to use music to determine how long you can do certain activities. Suppose you know that when cleaning you want to rest for about five minutes after every quarter of an hour. Then make a playlist (for example on Spotify) in which various uplifting songs are played for about 15 minutes. After these 15 minutes there will be 5 minutes of relaxed music, in which you take a break yourself. After this comes music that fits well with being active again, alternating with rest. You can even create different playlists for different activities! 

In short, music offers plenty of possibilities to relieve pain. A conscious use of music can really make a difference!

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