Listen, if you’re looking for an easy way to boost your mood, cue the music. Studies have shown that music can lift your mood and even fend off depression. It also improves blood flow, lowers your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol, and relieves pain. And get this – listening to music before an operation can improve post-surgery outcomes. Neat, huh?
Here are some more ways that prove why listening to music is good for your health.
Music has a way of “selectively activating” neurochemical systems and brain structures that are associated with positive mood, emotion regulation, attention, and memory in positive ways, according to Kim Innes, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health.
Innes did a 2016 study that found music-listening can boost mood and well-being and improve stress-related measures in older adults that are suffering from cognitive decline. Her study showed how the benefits of music are similar to those of meditation.
Kim Innes’ study found that both yoga and listening to music showed significant improvements in mood and sleep quality. “Both meditation and music listening are potentially powerful tools for improving overall health and well-being,” Innes says.
So for those of you who would rather listen to music instead of meditating, this is good news. But then again, there is a difference between the two, and it’s important to be aware of them…
According to Joanne Loewy, a professor, and director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine in New York, “Silence can be better than random listening.” She also said that “Some of our data show that putting on any old music can actually induce a stress response.”
Think about it: if you turn on the creepy music themes from movies like ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Shining,’ chances are your anxiety will increase rather than boost your mood.
Music, as we know, is subjective. Some people calm down to tracks with a slow tempo, gradual chord progressions and drawn-out notes. And then chaotic and up-tempo music tends to have the opposite effect for others.
According to Daniel Levitin, a professor of psychology who researches the cognitive neuroscience of music at McGill University in Canada, there’s also no single “music center” in the brain. He says. “One thing people find surprising is that music activates nearly every region of brain we’ve mapped so far.” This gives us an idea of how universal and powerful music is.
If you’re looking to de-stress, pump yourself up or otherwise shift your mental or emotional state, you probably already have a playlist of songs. So dive in and turn the music up. Just try to set aside distractions.
“We fool ourselves into thinking we can do two things at once,” Levin says. Sure, listening to inspirational music can help you exercise harder or longer, but listening to calm music while you’re scrolling through your news or social feeds isn’t going to calm you down, he says.