Learning any instrument can be extremely satisfactory, but playing the harmonica can take this to the next level. The harmonica is a small, powerful little instrument that is underestimated in the music world. It offers a variety of important physical health benefits including boosting your immune system, improving your respiratory system, and many preventative measures.
What most people don’t realize, however, is just how much of a positive impact it is also making on your mental health as well. Playing the harmonica comes with a lot of positive attributes including, and most importantly, reducing anxiety. In fact, there are 5 ways in which playing the harmonica has a direct positive impact on your mental health.
5 Ways Playing the Harmonica Reduces Anxiety
1) Provides a Sense of Purpose
It is no secret that music takes time, time, and more time to get better at. Even the greatest artists and musical pioneers had to practice to get to where they are, and the same is no different with harmonica players today. However, many studies have explored the impact that playing the harmonica can have on ones mental health.
While there is a world of benefits we will explore, one of the greatest impacts is has on us is its ability to provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Playing music is normally a long process of starting, stopping, and trying it again. So when you do hit that chord for the first time, or finally master the tongue slap, you are met with a huge wave of accomplishment and satisfaction.
The reality is too, that these techniques, although they may seem advanced, are not out of reach for the musician that puts time and practice into their art. Before you know it, you will be able to accomplish these advanced maneuvers with class and ease. Not only is the harmonica fun to play, but it is easy to learn and a great way to boost your own self-confidence.
2) It Helps You Relax
Of course, we know that playing music can help you relax. (1) Even within the first few minutes of practice, something changes. We settle in, we focus our energy on our music, and everything else starts to drown out around us. There is nothing like coming home from a long day at the office, and sometimes it can be hard to know how to calm your body and mind down.
Because the harmonica is such a nifty little musical instrument, not only can it be carried everywhere you go, but it can also provide you with some stress relief. If things start to get too hectic during your day, or you don’t know how to calm your mind down once you get home, picking up the harmonica may be your secret to stress relief.
3) Improves Breathing Patterns
One thing we can observe from the great meditation teachers is the power of the breath. Our breath has the ability to speed us up, boost our adrenaline, and put us in ‘go-mode’. But when utilized correctly, it also has the ability to bring us down, slow our heart rates, and calm our central nervous systems.
The breath work used in harmonica playing is very similar to the breathing patterns used in pulmonary rehabilitation exercises. Not only is it building lung capacity and power, but the breath work used to play the harmonica is directly impacting our central nervous systems, slowing us down and bringing our center of attention to the music in front of us.
4) Improves Your Mood
Did you know playing music makes you happy? If you have any experience with any type of instrument, then you know that this is true. It gives us a sense of self and purpose resulting in positive impacts on our moods. Especially when you’ve had a long stressful day, and have a hard time sorting through emotions, playing an instrument can have a direct impact on this (2).
Music impacts the part of our anatomies called the limbic system; this is where all our emotions and feelings live. When we play the harmonica, our bodies are literally turning off any access adrenal or stress response hormones and replace it with much more calm and positive emotions. This brings us to our next point.
5) Turns Off Your Adrenaline
Aside from it directly impacting our limbic systems, it also impacts our automatic nervous system. Our automatic nervous system is our brain functions, blood pressure, breathing, heartbeat, everything that our bodies automatically that we don’t have to tell them to do. Whenever we feel afraid, scared, or threatened, our bodies release adrenaline hormones that result in our ‘fight or flight’ response.
Playing music helps to turn these intense hormones off, calming your body. This helps your mind recover much faster than it would have without playing music. The next time you may feel stuck in your emotions, or unable to stop your body from releasing your ‘fight or flight’ response, you may consider picking up your harmonica instead.
There are many reasons, of course, to play the harmonica. But in addition to that, there are even more health benefits that come with it. Playing the harmonica is fun, enjoyable, and can be a great and easy hobby to pick up. As a result, it will have a direct positive impact on your stress levels and overall mental health.
Some of these positive changes include give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, help you relax, improving breathing patterns and overall respiratory systems, improves your mood, and turns off any stress hormones (3). As we mentioned, learning the harmonica is extremely easy, and on top of that it is small, easy to carry, and cheap to buy.
The harmonica is a great instrument to learn if you want to try a new instrument, or simply play for your own enjoyment. Either way, you will reap the health benefits that come with playing any instrument, but specifically the harmonica. It is Never Too Late to Learn to play! Here are some of the other great reasons why we love playing harmonica.