Music accompanies us as we go through our day, and can make a mundane task or life struggles feel more bearable. Research has shown music’s influence to extend much further, in that music can change your mood, improve your health and your overall well-being. Numerous studies have been conducted to show how music impacts the brain, emotions, mood, perception, physical and mental health, well-being, and overall quality of life.
Music Can Bring Pleasure
According to articles published in Nature Neuroscience (2011) when you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain linked to reward and motivation. Music can bring pleasure so that even the anticipation of listening to music can cause the release of dopamine in our brains.
Music Can Balance Emotions
We often listen to music is to support a specific feeling or balance our emotions. One study, in Journal of Consumer Research (2013), found that our tendency to listen to music congruent with our current emotions (i.e., to listen to sad music when you are sad) may correspond with your preference for an empathic friend. Music can balance emotions by helping you feel better by corresponding with what you feel and affirming that others out there share your emotions.
Music Can Balance Moods
While listening to music, especially when the music is upbeat and you are intent on changing your mood, music can balance your moods according to studies from the University of Missouri (2013). In these studies, participants who actively tried to improve their mood while listening to upbeat music reported more happiness than those who passively listened.
Music Can Change Your Perception
Music has the power to influence your perception of the world around you, according to researchers at the University of Groningen (2011). Here participants were asked to identify happy and sad faces while listening to either happy or sad music. They were more likely to accurately identify the facial expression correctly when it matched the music, importantly illustrating that focusing the power of the mind can change your perception and improve overall wellness.
Music Improves Mental and Physical Health
Given the widespread benefits of music, it may come as no surprise that music therapy has become increasingly popular in helping treat people with mental and physical disorders. From anxiety and depression, dementia, pain reduction and sleep quality, music has shown to be an effective and inexpensive form of treatment.
Music has shown to improve psychological suffering, such as anxiety and depression. And people with cancer who either listened to music or worked with trained music therapists showed a decrease in anxiety compared to other standard treatments. Research has also indicated an increase in quality of life and improvements in heart rate and blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of Pain (2012) found music to reduce pain in highly anxious individuals by diverting their focus through emotional engagement.
In addition to it’s many psychological benefits, music can be combined with physical activity to help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduce heart risk factors, and improve overall quality of life. Research tells us that music can uplift and balance moods, making physical activity more enjoyable, and enhancing your overall health and wellness.
And finally, listening to music, specifically classical music, can improve the quality of sleep. Music can calm the sympathetic nervous system, decreasing anxiety, heart rate, and respiratory rate, which has a positive influence on sleep. Research shows us again that music can lead to muscle relaxation and can be used to distract you from your thoughts, making it an effective treatment for sleep problems.
So let’s all edit our playlists and start listening so music can enhance our moods and health. For some music suggestions see our Healthy Artists Resources.