Ed Sheeran's act of love shines a spotlight on the therapeutic effects of music.
Few things restore your faith in humanity more than seeing someone show love and compassion to a complete stranger, without expecting anything in return — and it's especially life-affirming when that someone is a celebrity. Sunday night, singer Ed Sheeran embodied this ethos by making the dream of one of his biggest fans come true.
After learning (via Twitter campaign) of Triona Priestley and her battle with cystic fibrosis, Sheeran decided to reach out to the teen's family. He was invited to serenade her over the phone with her favorite song "Little Bird" until she fell asleep; shortly after, she passed away. Priestley's family was incredibly grateful for the gesture, and her brother thanked the singer and the organizers of the Twitter campaign publicly.
Sheeran's act shows that music not only brings people together, but can also be amazingly therapeutic, even for the terminally ill. Here are a few other ways music has been known to help and, sometimes, heal.
1. Music reduces anxiety.
The idea of using music as therapy dates back many centuries. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music acts as "a form of sensory stimulation that provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings of security associated with it." Through the development of "coping and relation skills", the intervention methods used in music therapy can help reduce anxiety.
2. It's a stress reliever.
Jane Collingwood of Psych Central stated that music is a great tool to use when it comes to stress management because of its "unique link to our emotions" as well as its ability to reduce the stress hormone levels. She also went on to say that as "music can absorb our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same time it helps to explore emotions. This means it can be a great aid to meditation, helping to prevent the mind wandering."
3. It keeps you active.
We've all relied on our spotify playlists to keep us moving during exercise without ever really thinking about it. Research indicates that there is a direct correlation between the music you listen to and how fast and effective your workout is. According to London’s Brunel University School of Sport and Education's Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., one of the reasons why people notice a significant improvement in their exercise routine while playing music is because it increases your endurance levels by 15%. This may be related to the fact that the songs (especially those that contain upbeat lyrics) distract you from the amount of effort you're putting in to exercising.
4. It can speed up recovery time.
In a study conducted by Cognitive Brain Research Unit's Särkämö, it was found that after suffering from a stroke, music can greatly improve a patient's attention and memory. He stated that after just three months, "verbal memory improved from the first week post-stroke by 60 percent in music listeners, by 18 percent in audio book listeners and by 29 percent in non-listeners." This essentially means that simply listening to a song caused a major improvement in the patients' cognitive processes.
What do you think of Ed Sheeran's kind gesture — and of music as a form of therapy?