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Stay in harmony this Christmas with music

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Stay in harmony this Christmas with music


By Sue LeBreton

In the race to the holidays that seems to begin with Thanksgiving, take control of the sounds in your life and use them to soothe yourself. According to Sharon Carne, author of Listen From the Inside Out, sound moves through our bodies four and a half times faster than it moves through air.

These sound vibrations affect the atoms of the human body and can create a positive or negative effect depending upon the characteristics of the sound. Traffic noise increases the amount of stress hormones a body releases, not a desirable effect.  Conversely, the feel-good, bonding hormone is released when people play music or sing together.
Your heartbeat and breath rate change to match the beat of the music surrounding you, so keep that in mind as you plan your holiday activities. Here are some tips about how and when to use sound to help you stay in harmony during the holidays.
Before a shopping trip.
On the way to the stores, consider listening to some lively music to get you energized for your outing. Carne says we seem neurologically wired to like certain music but whether this is caused by nature or nurture is a topic of debate. Choose music that you love, music that makes you happy and use it to get those feel good hormones flowing.
After a shopping trip.
If the hustle and bustle of shopping leaves your heart racing and your shoulders tense, consider a slower rhythm to decrease your heartbeat and breathing rate. It can even slow your racing brain waves. Think about how much more pleasant your interactions with your family will be when you arrive home refreshed not frazzled.
Before the family meal.
If you love the chaotic energy of preparing for a large family meal you might choose energizing music to help you accomplish all your tasks. If you are already feeling tense, turn on slower music. Carne says nature sounds such as wind, water and birds are always soothing because we evolved with these sounds. It is no coincidence that spas tend to play these nature tunes to relax guests.
During the family meal.
Soft, slow rhythms will help your guests relax and savor the meal. Carols playing quietly in the background can be a nice, seasonal touch. However, if any of your guests work in retail bypass the carols as that may be stress inducing after listening to holiday music all day. Keep the volume low enough that guests can talk comfortably.
After the meal.  
“Singing and playing music together releases the bonding hormone Oxytocin,” says Carne. She asserts that it is about the shared experience and laughter not how well you can sing. How about family karaoke? If you are not musical an interactive group game like Charades or Guesstures will help everyone reap the beneficial vibration of the sound of laughter on your body.
During clean up.
Look to your body for clues as you clean up after your gathering. If you feel sluggish but still want the house tidied before you retire, put on some faster music to energize you and your helpers. Choose music you love and the chore will go quickly. If you are tense after navigating the family dynamics, turn to the slower rhythms or even consider the sound of silence as way to self soothe. Watch your body’s response and follow its lead.
The right choice of music can:

·    Reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) in ten minutes

·    Reduce anxiety

·    Slow heart beat (relaxed is between 50-70 beats per minute)

·    Slow breathing rate

·    Evoke the body’s relaxation response

·    Boost the immune system

·    Reduce pain