Music therapist Melissa Violette leads free, online community support groups. PHOTO COURTESY OF BIRCH BAY VILLAGE

Music central to stress, grief relief: Virtual groups open to community



BAR HARBOR— Music has almost magical powers to relieve stress, help cope with grief and support those who care for others.

Melissa Violette, director of music therapy at Birch Bay Village Retirement Village, is offering free, online support groups for the greater community.

Stress management

“Coping with current events and the pandemic has brought stress, anxiety and social distancing to our daily lives,” Violette said.

She said chronic stress can lead to weight gain, a weakening of the immune system and other physical and mental health problems.

“When we mindfully practice stress management techniques, it significantly impacts our overall stress levels and the ability to manage our daily troubles with creativity and balance,” Violette said.

“Music has been a part of our emotional wellbeing since before we were born, and it has been used since the beginning of mankind to promote relaxation. It can be used to reduce stress and to improve mood and perception.”

The one-hour stress management support group is offered every Monday at 11:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

Grief support

“Whether grief is related to death, divorce, loss of job or health, we are taught that expressing grief is socially unacceptable,” Violette said. “We keep it locked tightly inside. Friends don’t know how to help, so after a time, they may tend to withdraw or even avoid us.

“Music connects people in a safe way and reminds us that we are not alone in our experience. It unlocks our hearts, helps us understand each other and gives us a way to express ourselves when words seem inadequate.”

She said participants in the grief support groups may contribute as much or as little as they like during sessions. A one-hour session is offered every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Caregiver support

Caring for others is often rewarding, but it also can be very stressful and lead to burnout.

“Caregivers can often feel exhausted, overwhelmed and isolated, as well as emotionally and physically drained,” Violette said. “It is important that we not neglect our own needs and quality of life.

“Being able to confidently talk with others who understand the struggles we are going through greatly reduces stress, validates our experience and gives a sense of connection and support.”

Caregiver group sessions include breath work, listening to and making music, lyric analysis and group discussion.
The one-hour caregiver support group is offered every Friday at 5:30 p.m.

For more information or to register for a free, virtual support group, contact Violette at [email protected].

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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