Music is unique, there’s no doubt about that. Not everybody likes sport. Not everybody likes cooking. Not everybody likes Christmas. Yet, everybody has a favorite song. Whether it’s R&B or smooth rock from the 70s, we also all have a genre. For those really into their music, their tastes lie across several genres.
If you’ve had a bad day and then felt better after listening to your favorite artist, you’ve experienced the therapeutic value that music can bring. For those interested in what happens to the mind and body, there’s actually science behind the magic. Let’s take a look!
Firstly, the biggest change when listening to music comes in brain activity. When music has a strong beat in particular, brainwaves are encouraged to resonate with the beat (in sync). When we listen to a faster beat, research suggests that this can lead to more alert thinking and improved concentration. Meanwhile, we get into a meditative state when listening to music with a slower beat.
As we listen to more and more music and our brainwave activity varies, some scientists believe this teaches the brain to change speeds whenever required. Even once the music has stopped, the brain will react, and this impacts our long-term state of mind.
State of Mind
While on this topic, there’s no denying music’s ability at helping those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression. Not only do we listen to the music as it rises and falls, we find meaning in the lyrics of our top artists. If you think about your favorite songs right now, some will be in the list because of their beat and melody, and others will be included for their lyrics.
Either way, we find a new state of mind and sometimes a place of peace in the hectic world around us. Rather than letting stress, anxiety, and depression take hold, we can encourage optimism and creativity through music.
Heart Rate and Breathing
We’ve spoken about the mind and the brain, but what happens on a more physical level? Well, the change in brainwaves can also lead to alterations in the autonomic nervous system; in other words, the system that looks after heart rate, breathing, and other functions. When listening to music, the heart rate can slow, alongside breathing, while the relaxation response activates.
Other Potential Benefits
Although these are the three main benefits, some research also points to music helping with blood pressure. In an ever-stressful world, blood pressure and heart-related concerns are only becoming more prominent. By lowering blood pressure through music, we can also reduce muscle tension, the risk of stroke, and even improve immunity.
With all of these benefits in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising to hear that music therapy has been developed to help those suffering under the weight of stress and anxiety. With the physical and mental benefits, music leads to improved health as well as the initial relaxation.
If you don’t already (most of us do!), we highly recommend adding music into your daily routine. For some, it will be listening to the radio while getting ready for work in the morning. For others, it will be sitting down with a relaxing playlist after a long day at work. Whichever you choose, it can provide the stress relief and solitude we need in a busy world!