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November 17th, 2016 by Marta J. Papa


Part 6: The Imperative of Self-Care for Divorcing Parents: Mental Healthcare (continued)

Today I would like to continue our focus upon mental healthcare and some further proactive choices you can make to meet the challenges of the holiday season. As I suggested in the previous blog, certainly an evening log that records one or two positive moments from your day is a valuable place to start. Another invaluable tool is the power of music. As the Victorian poet Robert Browning observed, “Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.”

So whether you want to still your mood with Bach, rev up your energy level with Katy Perry, or fall into a reflective mode with old favorite college jams, music is a guaranteed mood shaper.  And, therefore, an exceptional tool to use while defending and protecting your well-being. Indeed, simply putting on some headphones and heading out the door can provide you with two of the most precious outlets during these stressful times: music and motion! Both predictably enhance your emotional and physical well-being, while at the same time boosting an otherwise compromised immune system due to stress.

So if you find yourself the parent who has the kids for Thanksgiving and the task of pulling together a satisfactory holiday meal, choose to surround yourself –in the kitchen cooking, in the car driving to errands, or in the coffee shop grabbing a French roast– with carefully selected music. Or perhaps you are like Mrs. X and filling in post-daylight-savings-time hours spent by yourself (and doing so for the first time in a very long while). Regardless, the prescription is the same: write your own well-being script with your iPhone’s music app. By doing so, you are arming yourself with music-as-medicine. Indeed, music as a formidable therapeutic tool is the very heart of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York.   Their research—and many other clinicians’ studies, as well– has shown time and again how music therapy can markedly improve health outcomes: dogged depression has been relieved and even survival outcomes for premature infants struggling for life have been improved. In other words, music works!

So whether it is an uplifting melody running like a rotary through your brain or a specially selected gratitude journal written in aqua blue pen, choose how you want to color your mind and mood…and do so deliberately.