Self-medicating with music

I'm sure you've noticed that music cannot be quarantined. Home-made music videos started surfacing on social media as soon as the lock down happened in China. The same happened in Italy with music immediately bursting onto balconies. I'm now self-medicating with music. Are you? To put it simply...

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To put it simply music is one of the most versatile tools in our brain modulating toolbox. It can very quickly change the way we think and behave. It's not magic. It's electrochemical.

It's always fascinated me that a bunch of invisible air molecules travelling into my ear can influence how I feel, what I think and what I do. Sound is a very powerful and often overlooked sensory experience. It works when our eyes are open or closed. It works in a 360-degree manner, whereas our eyes have a limited capacity to scan the entire environment. The air molecules trigger specific hairs and are converted into electrochemical action potentials entering the brain. These activate numerous neural nuclei and chemical transmitters that affect our emotion, motivation, energy and behaviour. The results are superfast.

I'm finding this lock down experience rather weird and more difficult than I imagined I would. Are you? Due to family health matters my partner had to head to Devon to look after the parentals. So I've been home alone for 4 weeks so far. I've never been on my own for so long. It's made me realise what my mum went through when my dad suddenly died. She's lived on her own for 20 years now but it must have been very lonely, traumatic and silent at first. Maybe it still is. My sister and I live hundreds of miles away.

Thankfully my labrador Charlie is keeping me company and my sister and I have been video chatting with mum almost every day. I really have nothing to complain about. I live in a nice house with a garden on a lovely beach on the South Coast and the weather recently has been lovely. But I still find myself occasionally feeling pretty low. Like many other people I have no idea if my business will survive this unprecendented situation and a friend of mine died unexpectedly a few days ago. She had been suffering from brain cancer but didn't tell anyone. I'm experiencing a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and I'm beginning to find the daily routine repetitive.

To keep a hold of my own mental and physical health I have been turning to music as I always have done. Rediscovering my 1980s vinyl collection and reminiscing with friends on social media. But I have also recently returned to my roots as a personal trainer by hosting free exercise-to-music classes on Zoom. I had forgotten how much I missed doing this. It's the perfect combination of music medication and movement. These 15 min sessions give me the boost I need and also enable me to connect with people visually. I've also been hosting singalongs and guitar lessons. There is always a lot of laughter.

If you find yourself at a loose end please do join me for one of my 15 min workouts. It's very informal and free. RSVP at

Take good care of yourselves and keep self-medicating with music. It works.

Love from,



Dr Julia Jones (Dr Rock)

Author / CEO, The Music Diet & Found in Music

I read my first music neuroscience article in 1992 while studying psychology. Since then I've continued to use these principles and techniques to help clients harness the power of music in life and business. Over the past 25 years I've worked with elite athletes, celebrities, cities, governments and leading organisations in the private and public sectors. I published my first book The Music Diet in 2019 to bring 40+ years of music and wellbeing research together into one simple read. The Music Diet workplace wellbeing programme will be launched in October 2019 and Music At Work Week will promote the benefits of music in the workplace (Nov 25 to Dec 1).
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