Tag Archives: movement therapy

The Impact of Music on the Nervous System and Mental Health

The Impact of Music on the Nervous System

Sounds can either delight or irritate the nervous system, which in turn has an impact on how we feel, think and behave. Last Thursday a car parked in my street had the alarm going off every 5 minutes from 10am until they picked the car up after work. By the end of the day I was grumpy and frazzled.  The constant blare of car horn had bored into my nervous system, setting me on edge (a sympathetic nervous system response).  This unpleasant experience led me to search Google scholar for articles on the impact of music on the nervous system.

The impact of music on your nervous system - Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy and Counselling North Brisbane
Photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash

The Impact of Music on Anxiety and Depression

Heaps of research has been done on the impact of music on anxiety and depression:

A 2017 study by S Aalbers and colleagues found that music therapy reduces anxiety and depression. 

In a 2014 review of 63 scientific studies, Fancourt and co. found that not only did listening to music decrease the blood pressure, levels of cortisol and stress in your body, but it had a GREATER EFFECT than anti-anxiety medication and relaxation techniques. 

Let’s think about that for a minute.  Listening to your choice of relaxing music is more effective than medication!  All you have to do is listen…   Pass me the earphones STAT!

How does music do this?  Apparently listening to the music you love releases Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter that impacts our thinking, feeling and behaviour. See the research here…


listening to the music you love releases Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter that impacts our thinking, feeling and behaviour. -Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy and Counselling North Brisbane
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

But it’s not just about feeling good emotionally.  The impact of sound on your nervous system impacts other systems in your body.

The Impact of Music on Your Body

  • Music was found to have had an anti-inflammatory effect on the body (which is a risk for numerous diseases and conditions). See the research here..
  • It had a beneficial effect on anxiety, blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, sleep and pain in people with Coronary Heart Disease. See the research here..
  • And it had beneficial effects on anxiety, fatigue, pain and quality of life for people with cancer. See the research here..
Relaxing the nervous system - Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy and Counselling North Brisbane

So choose the sounds you listen to carefully….. Think about the impact of music on the nervous system.

  • Feeling stressed or anxious?  Put on your favorite music and see if it makes an impact.
  • If you work in a stressful environment, why not use noise-cancelling earphones?
  • What sound do you use as your alarm?  A friend of mine listens to the sublime, silky sounds of “Samba da Bencao” by Bebel Gilberto.  Imagine waking up to that instead of a beep.  How chilled would the start of your day be?

I use music to either quieten or arouse the nervous system in my movement therapy classes and workshops. If you are interested in finding out more, hop on over to my Movement Therapy Page.

If you would like to ask me what Counselling or body psychotherapy is all about, I offer a FREE 20 minute discovery session by phone for new clients.  You can also book this online by clicking the button below.

Schedule Appointment

Alternatively call me for a chat on 0450 22 00 59 and ask me how I can help you.

If you’re not ready to book just now, you can sign up to my monthly client newsletter and see what I’m sending my clients.  I never give away contact details and you can unsubscribe at any time.

The Impact of Music on the Nervous System and Mental Health was last modified: July 10th, 2020 by Sarah Tuckett

Exercise as therapy for your mind and body

Exercise as therapy for your mind

We know that exercise make us healthier.  It has the benefit of lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of diabetes.  But it’s so easy to NOT do it, right?  Especially as it’s getting so cold and the sofa is so comfy.  But there is a much more important reason for exercising than fitting into those skinny jeans.  Exercise is literally medicine for your mental health.   So why not think of exercise as therapy for your mind.

Exercise for mental wellness at Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy and Counselling

Exercise boosts your mood, releases those feel-good endorphins and improves your cognitive performance (see this article by JC Miller and Z Krizan for the science).  It also helps you to replace lost energy, or let go of excess tension from your body.


Movement therapy for you mind as well as your body

I like to think of exercise as ‘movement therapy for your mental wellbeing’.


How do you know what kind of exercise your body needs? First you need to tap into what feels good for YOUR body and your MIND.  Try out different things.  You’re unique so find out what YOU like doing exercise-wise and what your soul needs. There’s no point forcing yourself to go to the gym if it bores the living shizz out of you. 


Here are some suggestions for exercise as therapy for your mind:



If you’re feeling depressed it’s likely you’re in a low energy state.  What would be good here is to build up more energy in your body by moving it and by taking big breaths.  Trouble is, when you’re feeling depressed and your motivation is rock bottom, it’s hard to actually get off the sofa. Why not call a friend and get them to take you there?   

The people at Psychology Today wrote a good article about how to exercise when you’re really low.  They advocate just trying little 5 minute bites and building up from there. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/back-the-brink/201311/how-exercise-when-depressed


Here are some ideas for depression-busting exercise:



Walking as movement therapy - Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy

The most accessible exercise for those us with functioning lower limbs.   Even if it’s just 5 minutes.  You’ll get your circulation going, you’ll breathe in some fresh air and maybe even get some Vitamin D.  And many more benefits besides these.  

I advocate going with a friend, because not only will it give you some social interaction, they’ll also help you keep going when you really just want to hide away in your nest.   


Breathe deeply 

Get yourself to a gentle yoga class – Yin Yoga would be perfect.  Don’t let your ego take over – listen to your body – stay away from the more strenuous classes like Vinyasa until you’ve got more energy in your system. 

The breathing techniques (pranayama) from Yoga are also fantastic for getting more energy into your lungs.  You’re literally pumping yourself up with energy from the inside.

Yin yoga



Bust out your inner Carmen Miranda/Antonio Banderas

Latin dancing is great for alleviating symptoms of depression

My top pick for depression is Latin dancing.  You’re out there mingling with other people instead of sinking into your aloneness and you‘re getting exercise without having to resort to lycra.  You don’t have to go there with a partner or friends.  The majority of people go on their own and you may even make new friends.

You also don’t have to be already a  dancer.  Everyone starts as a beginner.  Some with two left feet. And there’s no prerequisite to be skinny.  Some of my favorite dance partners are more on the cuddly side. 

Dancing is so good for you the Victorian Government has written about the benefits:



Have a dance break instead of a chocolate break

Those clever peeps at No Lights No Lycra have created a free app called Dance Break.  Once a day it will randomly take over your phone and sends you a song to dance to in the middle of the office/school/street.  Go to http://dancebreak.com.au/  Or download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Dance break



When you’re anxious you’re in a state of  fear. That constant rumination (going over thoughts in your head again and again) causes the release of noradrenaline and cortisol into your system. Being in a constantly hyped up state is bad news for your poor over-worked adrenal glands and the cocktail of emergency hormones isn’t too crash hot for the rest of your body either (they’re meant for emergency use, not every day).    Additionally, constantly  being in a fight or flight state chews up a lot of energy.  

You need to ground yourself in the present.  Anything that slows you down and reconnects you with your body and the present time is worth a go. 

Try Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi or Chi Gung.   Restorative yoga is perfect for the over-stressed nervous system.  Again the breathing techniques will bring more energy to your body and replace that depleted energy store.   

Restorative yoga - perfect for reducing anxiety


Stressed out?

I advocate doing something to release the pent up tension in your body – especially an activity where you get to use your breath and voice to help release that tension.  Try boxing or martial arts.  Make a racket and unleash the tiger!

Try Martial Arts to release pent up tension and stress - Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy


But then on the flipside, you also need to calm your nervous system. So once again, walking, yoga, pilates.  Anything that calms you. Massage is fantastic. Laze in a float tank even! Or lie on your back and gaze up at the stars. Whatever it takes to calm you down. 


So whatever you do, do something that appeals to you.  Keep trying new things until you find what works for you and make it your personal exercise as therapy for your mind. 



I hope you found this article helpful.  Please share it.



Exercise as therapy for your mind and body was last modified: July 10th, 2020 by Sarah Tuckett