Therapeutic effects of music can boost productivity

Music interventions have been used for many years to reduce anxiety and distress, and improve physiological responses


WITH the third wave of Covid-19 infections well underway, more Malaysians are expected to work from home to help with efforts to stem the transmission of the virus.

In fact, last Tuesday, the National Security Council decided that employees at the managerial and supervisory level in areas placed under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) must work from home beginning Oct 22.

The ruling is expected to affect about one million employees in both the public and private sectors in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sabah and Labuan where the CMCO has been enforced.

While working from home may seem an attractive option, not all employees look forward to it due to the less than optimal working environment at home. This is true in the case of those with young children who are forced to multitask to meet the needs of their family and office deadlines as well.

For those who have no dedicated workspace at home, the frequent distractions, noise and technical problems with the computer and Internet can be stressful, and stress, when it accumulates, can have an adverse effect on their mental health.

For employees who feel stressed out at work, music might make them feel better and improve their productivity.

Experts have said music is therapeutic and can boost efficiency and creativity levels, create more enthusiasm among workers and expedite completion of projects.

According to a December 2013 report by UK-based Cochrane, an international organisation that publishes

reviews of health evidence, music interventions have been used for many years to reduce anxiety and distress, and improve physiological responses, such as heart rate and respiratory rate in medical patients.

Reduce Anxiety

It is suggested that individuals working from home listen to music while at work (pic: Bernama)

Mohd Zaki Sarpan, psychology officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggests that individuals working from home listen to music while at work. Music, he said, is known for its therapeutic effects which can help employees remain productive as it improves their concentration and enables them to manage their stress better.

“Music can boost productivity and cognitive performance among adults, as well as reduce their anxiety level and make them feel more motivated,” he told Bernama.

He said although there are no clear-cut studies that music can be used as a therapeutic tool to heal or resolve problems caused by any crisis, it is known to help children and adults to learn to cope with a crisis and to express their feelings and emotions.

On the genre of music to play while at work, Mohd Zaki said this would depend on individual preferences.

“The important thing to know is that music can influence a person’s emotional state. If we listen to a sad song, we end up feeling depressed, but when we listen to a fast number, we feel energised.

“Basically, each person has his or her personal favourites when it comes to music and they will know what type of music to choose should they want to just relax or focus better on their work.

“Some people like to listen to the sound of water flowing or birds tweeting, or listen to music featuring the sounds of nature as it makes them feel calm and peaceful,” he said.

Playing Musical Instruments

Those who lack the motivation to work from home should choose to play songs with positive lyrics that can boost their morale.

Mohd Zaki said even listening to instrumental music while studying or working can help improve their concentration and understanding.

He said even playing musical instruments can have a calming effect on people who feel stressed due to work or family pressures.

“After a hard day at work, one can unwind and de-stress by playing one’s favourite instrument…it can be the piano, guitar or violin or any other instrument,” he said, adding that families can even start their own mini band and enjoy themselves by performing together.

Playing musical instruments can
have a calming effect on people who
feel stressed due to work or family

For those who cannot afford to buy an instrument, they can use their smartphones to download applications for instruments such as piano, guitar and violin.

Those who have trouble sleeping at night can also benefit from the therapeutic effects of music, said Mohd Zaki, who recommended that they play instrumental music to overcome their insomnia.

He said studies have shown that insomnia can cause stress and affect one’s emotions.

“There are several theories as to the therapeutic effects of music on insomnia and sleeping difficulties. Certain types of music are said to have the ability to lull one to sleep, but other types can stimulate the mind,” he said, adding that people with insomnia must use the trial and error method to see what suits them best.

This is because the emotional response to instrumental music or songs differs from person to person.

“For some people, certain songs or music can evoke memories from the past which will make it more difficult for them to fall asleep. This is why it is important that they select the right music or song to lull them to sleep,” he added. — Bernama