Music tends to hit on us a deep level. Whether it is sad music that helps us feel relatable when we are going through hard times or joyful music that adds an extra bounce to your step, music is incredibly powerful. But why is this the case? Why does music impact your brain and mood so deeply? In this article, we’ll discuss how music can actually affect our mood.
How Does Music Affect Us?
The Journal of Positive Psychology conducted a study in 2013 and discovered that individuals who listened to music that could be classified as happy and upbeat were able to improve their mood and overall happiness in just a few weeks.
Throughout the study, participants were encouraged to try to improve their mood, but they were only able to find success when they listened to happier music. The music options that were offered were Copland (upbeat) compared to the gloomier Stravinsky.
Feeling good about yourself is great, but there are larger implications at play. A better overall mood and demeanor are linked to the following:
- Better physical health
- Higher income
- Greater relationship satisfaction
That is exciting news and is definitely an incentive to start scrolling to that upbeat song on your next playlist.
Music As Therapy
The first bullet point in the previous section included, “better physical health.” Is this possible? Could music really impact your physical wellbeing? The American Music Therapy Association thinks so!
The American Music Therapy Association details that music therapy programs can be constructed to manage mental stress, boost memory, and even eliminate pain.
How was this study quantifiable? The individuals that listened to music during surgery required less pain medication than those that did not enjoy music.
Data was gathered from 73 various trials and included more than 7,000 patients. With this information, music should be available to all individuals undergoing surgery procedures.
Music can also help with chronic conditions, including dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
The Low-Risk Nature of Music Makes it a Perfect Option
Think about those commercials showing happy couples on the beach and dancing at weddings, they always look happy but give you a dictionary-size list of potential side-effects.
That is not the case with music. Music can improve your mood, quality of life, and self-esteem, but it is also:
- Extremely safe
- Easily accessible
If you’re looking for more ways to see firsthand how music can be a powerful contributing factor to mental health, check out what www.AliveInside.org is doing for dementia in elderly folks.
Music Boosts Our Moods
Can your favorite songs be a form of therapy? Let’s discuss that. Researchers from the U.K. found that a unique orchestra for people with dementia helped improve their mood and boost their self-confidence.
The orchestra is one of several research projects done by the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute that demonstrate, that people with dementia can still have fun and learn new skills.
The study involved eight individuals with dementia, students, professional musicians, and a handful of caregivers.
The results were amazing. The orchestra was positively life-changing for all involved. Whether you are playing music or just listening and bobbing your head, the health benefits are remarkable.
You know that chill sensation you get when you listen to music you really like?
It was discovered that music can release dopamine in two main places in the brain, the dorsal and ventral striatum. When you are having a pleasurable experience, such as listening to your favorite song, these areas of the brain light up.
Music Changes the Way We Perceive The World
In experiments where people looked at a happy face or a sad face, the music they listened to affected how they perceived it. It influenced what they saw.
If you were listening to happy music, a more neutral face was more likely to be viewed as happy, and vice versa.
Music can also stir up old memories without the intention of doing so, bring back old emotions that were experienced at the time, shaping how we feel in the present moment.
If you’ve ever listened to any kind of music, you know your body can react in several different ways, such as:
- nodding your head
- tapping your feet
- snapping your fingers.
The beat of the song you’re listening to can even influence your heart rate, and when people sing together, their breathing often becomes synchronized, producing positive emotions.
These things happen because musical patterns affect our auditory cortex, which is part of the neural reward system and other areas involved in memory and emotion.
Feeling Down? Just Press Play
Next time you’re feeling down, just press play on some upbeat music. The music will pick you up and put a smile on your face.
Even better, recall a specific time in your life. A time you were really happy. Then, try to remember what music you listened to back then, and play that.
You will be flooded with the emotions you experienced at that time, affecting the way you experience the world around you in the present moment.