Why Music Is Good For Your Mental Health

Music can do a lot for us in life, and many people like to listen to it either every once in a while or perhaps all the time, making it a constant presence in your life. Whichever end of the scale you’re on, it’s likely that music features in your life somehow. Although you might only think of this as a form of entertainment, the fact is that music has a number of mental health benefits, especially when it comes to stress. With that in mind, keep reading to learn more about why music is good for your mental health so you can keep listening to it and maybe even listen more than you do now.

Stress Reduction And Relaxation 

Life is undoubtedly busy, and whether you work full-time or part-time, take care of a family, have lots of hobbies, or combine these things, you’re sure to feel stressed and overwhelmed when you try to fit it all in. Stress isn’t just something that is a bit of a nuisance either; if left unchecked, stress can cause all kinds of unpleasant conditions, including depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease. This is why it’s so important to reduce your stress levels as much as possible and to relax when you can – it makes a huge difference to your health and also to your happiness in life in general. 

The great thing about music is that it can help de-stress you and make you feel a lot more relaxed. Studies have shown that music activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes your body and mind. Even better, it directly counters the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which is what is responsible for the fight or flight response, something else that can easily cause stress. In other words, listening to music can help us destress, lower our heart rate and blood pressure, and even ease physical tension giving us an overall sense of calm. 

If you’re struggling with high-stress levels or anxiety, create a calming playlist of your favorite music, which can work as a great coping mechanism. If you’re grappling with hearing loss, it’s well worth getting help to truly benefit from what music can offer. 

Emotional Expression 

Music is also a great way to express yourself emotionally, which is important but not something everyone can or is willing to do. When you listen to music that means something to you (perhaps music with meaningful lyrics, for example, or music that makes you think of good times in your past), you can release your emotions healthily. Your pick might even make you cry – plenty can do this – and allow yourself to express yourself in this way, even if you wouldn’t do it at any other time. Remember, crying when you need to is actually good for you, even if it can be hard to do it around others, and that’s why music that gives you the chance to cry is a great opportunity to really make a positive difference, even if it’s temporary. 

This is why music therapy is so popular. Trained professionals lead this, and it helps people to really get to grips with their emotions. Many different activities include songwriting, improvisation, playing musical instruments, and simply listening to music. 

Mood Enhancement 

Songs have a real power to uplift you and make you feel good, and you’ll probably know from past experience that listening to a song you love, or a happy song in general, always makes you feel better when you’re having a bad day. What you might not know is why this happens. It’s all down to the fact that when you hear a positive song, the brain releases neurochemicals like dopamine – this leads to feelings of intense happiness and pleasure and acts like a natural mood enhancer. 

Although music can’t ‘cure’ depression, it can certainly lift a bad mood, so the next time you’re feeling low, put on some lively music and perhaps even dance or sing along for an added dopamine hit, and you’ll feel much more positive about life. 

Better Cognitive Abilities 

Music is a lot more complex than you might realize when you’re just enjoying it and benefitting from it in all the ways we’ve mentioned above, and this is a good thing – it means that, without knowing it, you’re using a variety of different areas of the brain at the same time. These include the areas responsible for memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Because of this, your cognitive function will often improve when you listen to a lot of music, and studies have shown that those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia can become more lucid when they listen to music, especially when it is music from their own lives and pasts.

While listening to music brings cognitive values, learning how to play music can be crucial to your brain’s neuroplasticity. This is the process that is involved in supporting the memory function. So, for example, if you were to decide to learn how to play violin, piano, or even recorder, you would be building new cognitive patterns in your brain, which is essential to preserving your cognitive functions in the long term.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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