Music is a powerful thing. Aside from its entertainment value, listening to music is known to have incredibly positive effects on our brain. More specifically, music can change the way we act, feel and think. So, how does this factor into managing our mental health? Music can be a source of pleasure and contentment, but there are many other psychological benefits as well. Music can relax the mind, energize the body, and even help people better manage pain.
The notion that music can influence your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours probably does not come as much of a surprise. If you’ve ever felt pumped up while listening to your favourite fast-paced rock anthem or been moved to tears by a tender live performance, then you easily understand the power of music to impact moods and even inspire action.
Research shows the benefits of music therapy for various mental health conditions, including depression, trauma, and schizophrenia (to name a few). Music acts as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief, but music can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or for dysregulation.
One of the many great benefits of music is that it can be used while you perform your everyday activities. Trying to stay focused and concentrate on an activity, whether that be studying, working or cleaning, can be difficult for some. Certain types of music are known to boost focus, so it’s important to know which music is right for improving focus. We recommend listening to instrumental, classical or ambient music.
A natural boost of happiness
Music can lead to feelings of pleasure or displeasure, can change thought processes, and can cause changes in behaviour. This psychological effect can be seen by physical changes in hormone levels. For example, a study showed that participants who listened to music they deemed “pleasing” had higher levels of serotonin, known as the “feel-good” hormone. Although difficult to prove the effects, this study suggests that the pleasurable experience of listening to a song can result in an increase in serotonin levels, which can put you in a better mood for your activities.
Research suggests that listening to music improves memory, however, this conclusion depends upon a variety of factors, including the type of music, the listener’s enjoyment of that music, and even how musically well-trained the listener may be. In one study, musically naive students learned better when listening to positive music, possibly because these songs elicited more positive emotions without interfering with memory formation.
Synchronizing with the beat
Your body has a natural way of synchronizing with the beat of a song. The more fast-paced and energetic a song is, the more likely your pace will be, as well.
Music stimulates the part of the brain that controls movement, so it helps your body complete repetitive movements more efficiently. This synchronization increases your heart rate, metabolism, and energy efficiency, while also reducing blood pressure and physical and mental stress. Also, you’re less likely to feel fatigued.