The benefits of music in the workplace: Part 3 – Wellbeing
Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking at the specific benefits that come from using music as a tool in the workplace and I’ve explored how we’ve seen deep and lasting improvements in both communication and team-building in some of the companies we’ve worked with over the last ten years.
This time, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ll consider how choirs, music lessons and music workshops can benefit the individual wellbeing of people at work. While it used to be the case that wellbeing and mental health were barely part of the workplace conversation, we’re now seeing it much more in the open, with employers recognising that employees’ mental health is very much part of their concern. With three-quarters of employees suffering from work-related stress, and about ten per cent of our time at work being effectively lost due to stress, it’s both businesses and employees that are seeing the cost.
When we run music lessons within a work environment, it’s the norm for pupils to arrive tired and stressed, with heads buzzing. Sitting down and playing on their chosen instrument immediately sets a new, slower pace. In doing this, it slows down the breathing and therefore lowers the heart rate. The rhythm of the music affects the brainwaves offering greater concentration and relaxation.
Playing music activates both the left and right side of the brain. The information and language learning process activates the left temporal lobe, and the music activates the right temporal lobe, creating neuro connections in the brain, which maximizes capabilities of processing and retention. The enjoyment and care that people attach to pieces induces the feel-good chemical dopamine, which enhances the memory and transmits impulses between nerve cells. Put very simply, singing makes you happy!
We are absolutely delighted that ever more companies are recognising this and are bringing music into their offices under the banner of wellbeing, alongside perks like gym membership and massages. I would argue that music is just as important as these more common perks, delivering benefits both physical and mental which can refresh the work/life balance and allow for some enchantment in the day.
Wellbeing can be defined as a combination of health, happiness, calmness and prosperity. It is also freedom – from worry and stress; and a sense of fulfilment and achievement. What I have seen through our work in many different settings, is that music is a simple and powerful way to enable people to achieve this sense of fulfilment and freedom, and thereby contribute to improved mental health – which makes sense for companies and individuals alike.
#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 8-14 May 2017
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