The Emotional Benefits
“The Universal Language – Music”. Everyone (human beings; animals; plants) enjoys some form of music! Some of us might have forgotten this due to stress or busy lifestyle but we know when our favorite music plays, it changes our chemistry and affect our mood. So let’s give ourselves this permission to enjoy it for at least 15 minutes/day. Its meditational and uplifting!
Numerous studies have touted the myriad benefits of listening to music, an activity among few others that stimulates every known part of the brain. From boosting creativity to increasing exercise performance, music can be helpful in many ways.
Not all music is created equally, though, and if it’s too loud or jarring, it can be harmful. However, listening to—or better yet, playing—most music, at a moderate volume, is a great way to enhance your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
So what are some of the reasons it’s good to turn on the radio, pop in your headphones, or hit ‘play’ on your iTunes list?
In the first post of this three-part series on how music affects the brain, we’ll look at its emotional benefits.
Listening to music lights up the brain’s limbic system, which is associated with emotions. Therefore, it can—and does—greatly affect us on an emotional level.
Note the Chemical Change
It has been documented that listening to music increases the “feel-good” chemical dopamine, which is part of the pleasure-reward system.
In addition, hearing live music or playing music with others activates the production of oxytocin, which is the brain chemical that helps us form personal bonds. Some evidence suggests that a boost in oxytocin created from listening to music can result in a person being more generous and trustworthy.
Moreover, listening to and playing music often lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Slow, quiet, classical music is most proven to minimize stress on people of all ages, even infants.
Music is a Mood Enhancer
Many studies have documented that listening to music can not only reduce negative emotions, it can actually instill feelings of positivity. Upbeat, cheerful songs in particular seem to most effectively induce optimistic outlooks.
People all over the world can attest to music’s ability to lift their spirits, and modern research backs that up. The psychotherapeutic benefits are now well-substantiated, which means music can indeed help “heal the soul”.
Is Sad Music Helpful?
A recent study showed that participants were able to identify a neutral face as happy or sad based on the type of music they had just listened to. The ability to hear sad music and then consider someone to be sad can lead to listeners being more empathetic towards others.
Also, while it may seem counter-intuitive, listening to sad music can be cathartic. Somber songs can help people who are going through rough times get in touch with their emotions, which is a vital step in the healing process.
Music is more than a mere art—it’s a beneficial tool for our emotional health. To reap the most rewards for your emotional state, err on the side of bright, lively songs or slow, peaceful tunes rather than anything too raucous.
In the next post, we’ll look at how music affects us on a mental level.