Music and Mental Well-being

“Music makes my world go ‘round,” – Lovebugs

“Music makes me lose control,” – Missy Elliot

“Please don’t stop the music,” – Rihanna

“Music makes the people come together,” – Madonna

It’s been said many times by many people that music is what makes the world keep on turning. From something soothing to help relax after a long day, to some EDM to get you pumped for a night out, to Marvin Gaye to set the mood for a romantic date, to a little MmmBop to take you down memory lane, different types of music can have different affects on us. Science is showing that music has more effect on our psychological wellbeing than we may realize.

Listening to the right music throughout the day can help us succeed in our tasks. It has been shown that as we age, background music can really help people focus on cognitive tasks. Typically, music without words works the best as you don’t risk getting distracted by complex lyrics. This doesn’t mean that one has to listen to classical music (though you can if that’s what you like), but there is plenty of EDM that doesn’t have lyrics. Another option is movie scores or you can sometimes find cover albums of your favorite artist that are instrumental versions of their songs.

During particularly stressful times of the day, research has shown that listening to music can help calm us down. Taking a break and listening to relaxing music has been proven to help people recover from stressful events quicker than people that don’t listen to anything.

Music has been shown to have other benefits too. For example, research has shown that people that listen to mellow music while eating, on average, eat 18% less. It is believed this has to do with being relaxed and eating slower, thus being more in tune to our bodies and realizing we are full sooner than when we just shovel food in our mouths.

In addition to helping control weight, music therapy has been shown to help relieve chronic pain. A 2015 study has shown that listening to music pre-surgery can help patients have better results. Also, on average, people that participate in music therapy require less pain medications. It’s thought that this works because of how complex of a stimulus music is. In fact, music is the most complex stimulant in nature for the brain to process because it involves so many areas of the brain. When we listen to music, we’re involving the parts of the brain that affect emotion, cognition, sensation, and movement, so it makes sense that music can help treat issues in all of those areas. To get the most out of music therapy, it’s best to find a licensed music therapist.

Music offers the perfect way to unwind after a long day. While many of us relax with our favorite show before bed, listening to an album instead can offer a better way to unwind. It’s less stimulating than a flashing screen and helps us get into sleep mode quicker, thus helping to enable a better chance of getting a full eight hours of sleep.

Music therapy has been shown to help relieve symptoms for many issues, including depression, while having no negative side effects. The main thing to remember here is that the type of music patients listened to is very important. Classical and meditative music presented the greatest mood-boosting results while heavy metal and techno were found to be ineffective or, in some cases, detrimental.

In another study regarding music and mental wellbeing, people that listened to positive music while making an effort to be happier and think positive thoughts, found an increase in their mood after 2 weeks of sessions.

We tend to not think too deeply about music and just consider it entertainment or background noise, when in reality it’s a way to relieve ourselves of a plethora of issues. Why not find your favorite album, relax, and listen to it all the way through? You might be surprised how much better you feel afterwards.

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