It’s no secret that music can have a lot of positive effects on people. A lot of research has been done over the years to study the positive benefits it can have on us. Music can reduce stress on the body, increase physical performance, reduce pain, and have an overall positive benefit on our mental health, well-being, and emotional state. It can also give improve the quality of life for people with chronic illness. Music has even been used as a therapeutic treatment by music therapists. Most of the time, it helps us relax, let go for a moment, and feel happier.
Here are seven ways, music can help you heal and improve your life satisfaction.
1. It helps calm your mood
Music is a great way to escape for a few moments during stressful or uncertain times. When people dance to music, they release restlessness, reduce boredom and can feel more energized. However, research shows that different genres of music can have different effects on the mood. For example, in one study, music was played during hernia repair surgery, and it decreased the cortisol levels of patients. Cortisol is the hormone produced by the body during its response to stress.
Similarly, choir music can affect the singers’ bodies by syncing their breathing and heart rates, creating a calming effect in the group. As well, sad songs allow people to work through difficult feelings after a breakup or loss, giving the listener the words to describe their experience. If you’re having a hard time expressing your feelings, try listening to a good break-up song. Listening to music has also been shown to reduce the anxiety of cancer patients during treatment. In addition, it has a similar effect on people undergoing surgeries or colonoscopies.
As well, one study showed that live music and lullabies can impact the vital signs of premature babies and improve feeding and their chance of survival.
2. It activates your brain’s pleasure center
Research shows that when you see a painting or hear music, your brain produces dopamine and activates the area that feels pleasure. This is the same part of the train that responds to things like food and sex. Another study showed that people enjoy the unpredictability of music and feel pleasure especially when they’re surprised by the music. In fact, listening to music increases positive emotions created in the reward centers of your brain. It also lights up almost every other part of the cortex.
Additionally, another study showed that people who respond emotionally to music have stronger connections in the areas of the brain that control hearing and process emotions. People who dance and engage with music tend to feel happier and satisfied with life. An Australian study concluded that people who dance at live music events have higher wellbeing scores than those who don’t. So do those who engage with music in a group setting rather than alone.
3. It helps with pain management
Music has been shown to help patients who are recovering from surgery by reducing their pain. One study showed that people with Fibromyalgia who listened to music daily had a significant reduction in their pain and depression symptoms. These findings are incredible. Have you tried listening to music when you’re feeling unwell, are having pain, or are in a bad mood? It sounds like it’s worth exploring as a solution.
There’s clear evidence that stress and pain are connected. This would suggest that the stress reduction effects of the music could also have a positive impact on pain management. In fact, many Music Therapists have used music to help their clients improve anything from coping skills to the ability to express negative feelings, to chronic or terminal illness symptoms.
4. It helps memory and learning
That’s not all. Music helps improve memory in people who are recovering from a stroke. It has the added benefit of improving their quality of life and some cognitive functions as well. For example, verbal memory and attention improved in stroke patients and they tended to be less depressed when listening to music. One study also showed that music improves our motivation to learn and retain a new language.
Similarly, there is evidence that music can be a great study aid and can help with information retention. Music rhythms and melodies can help our brains create patterns during learning. In fact, Alzheimer patients were shows to have better recollection of “lost” memories when they listened to music regularly.
Another study showed that children with autism had better social responses, communication skills, and attention when they engaged in music therapy. Music can bring up memories from the past, creating Music emotions and memory triggers. The question is, why aren’t we listening to music more often?
5. It can boost your immune system
Music has also been shown to have a positive affect on the immune system. A study of students at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania showed that soothing music increases IgA levels. These are the antibodies that protect us against disease.
In addition, critically ill patients in Massachusetts who heard classical music benefited from improved relaxation, lower stress hormone levels, and lower interleukin-6 protein in their blood. Interleukin-6 protein plays a role in higher rates of diabetes and heart conditions. All of these studies show that music may have a positive impact on the body’s immune response.
6. It gets you moving
There are even more studies that show that music helps the recovery process. For instance, during the exercise process, boosting mental and physical stimulation such as listening to music can help increase overall performance. Music can also encourage “action tendencies” by stimulating the listener to move with as they listen. Examples include dancing and foot-tapping.
There’s even evidence that the rhythms can influence our own internal heart rate. One study showed that motivational music increases the length of time people work out and helps them feel better than if they had no music or even non-motivational music to listen to. And another researcher concluded that people process more oxygen during a workout if they listen to music with a faster beat then their own body movements.
7. It encourages social bonding
Music can elicit emotions and behaviors not just from individuals but also from groups of people. The listeners will often mirror the feelings expressed by the artist in the music, or by other audience members who react to it. For example, when people cheer or cry during a performance, this is called emotional mimicry.
Music psychologists in Berlin have shown that music has the ability to connect people with others. It has a positive impact on trust, cooperation and empathy. For instance, during a live concert, people gather together and engage in a shared activity as they listen to the artist perform. Research has shown that music produces oxytocin which affects our ability to trust others.
Comparably, when people get together to jam in their garage or backyard, they feel connected to each other and create memories together. These bonding experiences are in part due to the music people share together. Case in point, artists who play or sing together must collaborate in order to create a good performance for their audience. Music artists also create communities of followers where they share stories about themselves and engage with their fans. These exchanges happen online and during live performances.
All of these studies show that listening to music, playing it, and catching a live performance are all great ways of improving health and emotional wellness. Most importantly, none of these studies have shown any negative affects to listening to music. What have you got to lose?
Copyright Michelle Thompson 2021. Copyright Authentic World Inc 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I have over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator, zen meditator, and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and non-profit consultant, and after struggling for years with my own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about who I was and what I wanted, I did the work and learned how to get out of my own way and create an authentic meaningful life for myself. Now I teach others to do the same. I created Authentic World Inc, to offer a supportive space for learning these important life skills.
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