Music can make us all feel better, this is no secret, but scientists are now discovering that music can do more for you than just uplift your spirits. Research has shown it also has a variety of health benefits.
There are a couple of theories as to why music is able to have such a positive effect on us and our health. One of them is that music has been with us since we were in uteri. The sounds we were picking up were more like musical sounds, from both inside and outside our mothers’ bodies. Another theory is that music gets deep into our memory. It often survives there because it stimulates the deeper, older centres of the mind, which are more likely to survive brain injuries or conditions like dementia.
Whatever the case, music moves us because it’s deeply embedded in our lives and our brains. So how does music have a positive effect on us? Here are six ways that it can improve your health and wellbeing.
1. Relieves Stress
Listening to music, especially slow, quiet, classical music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies. One reason why listening to this type of music is associated with relaxation is that it decreases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So if you’re feeling stressed out, plug in the headphones instead of the TV, and use music as a tool to help you de-frazzle.
2. Better Express Your Feelings
We often block out troubling thoughts or feelings we’d rather not deal with. But listening to music can be a way to better express yourself and help you cope during difficult times. For example, if you’re feeling isolated or just suffered a breakup, you may be able to relate to the music and find comfort from the words in a song. It can sometimes express how you are feeling or help vent difficult thoughts and emotions for you. By connecting to music when dealing with a troublesome issue, people often find tremendous relief.
3. Improve Your Memory Skills
When we hear a familiar song, we are often able to recall a moment from our past that it’s connected to. This may be because the processing of music shares some of the same pathways in the brain as memory. Studies have demonstrated that listening to music can stimulate parts of the brain and actually improves learning and memory skills. Even listening to music passively, in the form of background music, was found to help improve cognitive performance in memory. Music can be used in different ways— not only to stimulate your ears but your mind too. So turn it up!
4. Boost Your Workout
Listening to music when exercising can have a major impact on your performance. Scientists claim that music can increase your endurance, boost your stamina and can distract you from any discomfort experienced during your workout. The best type of music to reap this particular benefit from music would be high energy, high tempo music. So download some dance music and give your next workout a boost.
5. Sleep Better
If you’re suffering from insomnia, or just having trouble falling asleep one particular night, give music a try to help you fall asleep faster. Music has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration, as well as reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. But before you put on your favourite rock band to try to catch some sleep, know that not all music will work for insomnia. It must be music that slows and relaxes the mind. Soft music with slow rhythms is ideal. If counting sheep is not working for you, you might want to try tuning in to your favourite, soothing songs.
6. Change Your Mood
And last, but not least, music can just make you happy. When you’re feeling low, it is possible to shift or change your mood based on the music you listen to. Try listening to the song called “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. See if you’re not in a better frame of mind by the end of the song. Listening to happy music can brighten your heart and mind. Give your ears some nice melodies and don’t be afraid to sing out loud.
Music can play a big part in our lives. It can stimulate the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, help energize our mood and even help us work through problems and provide an outlet for us to take control of our feelings. It is encouraging to learn that, while music can be purely entertaining, it can also be added to our health and well-being toolkit.