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The Mental Health Benefits of Music

By HERWriter
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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

We’ve all done it. Turned on a love song when we’re feeling romantic. Turned on something lively when we’re cleaning house. Even cried when certain songs come on with stories that stir our hearts.

Music plays a role in everyone’s life to a certain extent. Some more than others. Each of us has our own preferences, some of us a little more eclectic than others. But each of us reaches for music for one reason or another.

Creating the Musical Mood

Jazz is often played create a relaxing atmosphere over dinner. Rock ’n Roll or country is usually played in bars. Easy listening music is usually played in family restaurants. Even shopping malls and grocery stores have clued in to the effect music can have on their customers. Those stores aimed at drawing teens in will play the kind of music that teens like (usually much to the chagrin of their parents). Grocery stores typically play light/soft rock, something slow-paced to relax shoppers so that they shop at a slower pace and, by spending more time in the store, are more likely to buy more than what they went in for.

Musical Effects on the Mind and Body

Music affects the body in six main ways, according to eMedExpert.com.

1) Music can help manage or reduce the effects of chronic (osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis) and post-operative pain. Music distracts, provides the patient with a sense of control, releases endorphins that counteract pain, and relaxes a person by slowing their breathing and heart rate. It reduces blood pressure, the severity, frequency, and duration of migraines and chronic headaches, and increases the production of immune-boosting hormones and decreases cortisol levels, which can interfere with immune response.

2) Music enhances higher brain function such as reading and literacy skills, spatial-temporal reasoning, mathematics, emotional intelligence, memory. Music improves concentration and attention.

3) Music improves athletic performance as it helps reduce the feeling of fatigue. It reduces muscle tension, which in turn improves body movements and coordination.

4) Music can help energize a person who is feeling fatigued and improve productivity.

5) Music calms, relaxes and can help a person fall asleep (as is commonly seen with infants and young children). Music has also been shown to lower cortisol levels which, in addition to boosting the immune system, also reduces stress.

6) Music can improve a person’s mood and reduce the effects of depression.

The Science of Music

While most of a person’s brain functions all the time, many people tend to use one side at a time for any particular task – left brain or right brain. “Left brainers” are more logical, rational, analytical, objective, and tend to look at parts that make up the whole. “Right brainers” tend to prefer randomness, are intuitive and subjective, synthesize and look at information and the world around them as a whole. Generally, those who are left brained are more adept at thinking logically, analyzing, and accuracy, while those who are right brained focus more on the way things look and feel, and are creative.

Music is one of the few activities that involves the use of the whole brain, particularly for those who play an instrument or sing, as opposed to those who just listen (though listening has benefits, too). Using both sides of the brain maximizes learning and retention of information.

It is surmised by researchers at Arizona State University that music affects the levels of oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that is known as the “love hormone” and is being investigated for its role in social recognition, bonding, and anxiety. “It evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security…” (www.wikipedia.com).

Music has also been shown to have an effect on serotonin levels. Higher serotonin levels help control memory power, learning, mood, sleep, body temperature, and arousal.

So whatever your mood, listening to the type of music your body craves, or finding the right kind of music to set the kind of atmosphere you need to relax, have a good time, or study, can make the world of difference.

Sources: http://asunews.asu.edu (Arizona State University); www.2knowmyself.com; www.yourdictionary.com; www.emedexpert.com; www.funderstanding.com; http://powerstates.com; www.wikipedia.com

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EmpowHER Guest

I absolutely love listening to music when I am work or doing things around the house. I find it so soothing, but I had no idea that it actually had mental health benefits. I am really happy to find out that one of my favorite pass times can help enhance my higher brain functions. This is a pretty awesome discovery! http://www.stagefrontmusic.com.au

February 1, 2016 - 7:03pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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