We have all felt the powerful influence of music at some point in our lives. Whether it's a favorite song on the radio, attending a live concert or performance, or perhaps even creating music in some form, we can safely say that music carries an impact. Have you also noticed how a song can bring back memories as if you were back in the very time and place when you first heard that song? Music is powerful! But, why exactly is that?
Interestingly, when it comes to brain activity, music fires up the brain! There are very few other things that can stimulate the brain the way music does. Listening to or playing music provides a whole brain workout!
When music enters the brain, several hormones are released, among them dopamine which is known as the pleasure hormone that can help us feel happy. Fascinatingly, your brain can even predict a favorite part of a well-known song and release a dose of dopamine even before the part of the song is played!
Additionally, research has shown that there is an increase in antibodies and cells that support your immune system when listening to music. And, a fun fact, it really doesn't matter the style of music one listens to. What matters more is that you have a positive view or relationship with the music. That positive impression is what drives the benefit-producing brain responses.
And, while listening to music may seem as simple as finding a streaming service we enjoy, it's anything but simple for your brain. Music has many complex elements for your brain to decode including structural, mathematical and architectural. Your brain is doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work when it comes to listening to music, but it's also very good for your brain and is what creates that brain workout we mentioned earlier.
On top of creating a feeling of joy, research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain and may help improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. So, how can you reap the benefits of music? Here are a few ideas.
- Use music strategically — Match your music to the activity you're doing whether it's cleaning (find something upbeat), relaxing after a long day at work (soothing vibes) or you're trying to memorize some facts, use music to your advantage!
- Use music as a cue — Music is so powerful it can be used to reinforce positive feelings and behaviors. For instance, you can create a soothing playlist that can help trigger calming emotions for a child when it's bedtime or a series of songs to set the mood for family chore time.
- Use music to shape your mood — We all know we want music to fit our mood. That's exactly why we feel discontent when we can't find a song to match how we are feeling. Start with a song that matches your current feeling and then gradually change the music to help you get to the mood you're hoping to manifest. This principle is actually often used by music therapists.
However you use music, just make sure to incorporate it as much as you can in your life. It's a huge benefit in so many ways!