The positive effects of music range from managing pain, depression, anxiety, to specific diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
Music therapy defined, is usually done with a health professional. However, music intervention can also be done independently on our own. As a result, this makes music an important component when it comes to building a toolkit for living a happier life. It’s an integral part of natural healing.
How Does It Work?
Music intervention can mean listening to or making music. The changes we experience with music can be physiological and psychological.
Researchers from the Netherlands conducted a comprehensive analysis on the effects of music on stress levels. They find that music reduces cortisol levels and slows down our heart rate. The decrease in physiological arousal also translates to lower blood pressure. Researchers use these biomarkers to measure the effect of music as a form of healing.
When it comes to our emotional state and music, researchers look to our brain. It appears that music “could deactivate the amygdala.” This means decreasing the “intensity of stress-related emotional states.” This part of the brain also “plays a crucial role in the regulation of emotional process and releasing endorphins.” Endorphins, a group of hormones considered the “body’s natural painkillers,” create a general feeling of well-being.
What Is it About Music?
Studies examining the “stress reducing effects of music” consider tempo, whether or not we consume music live or pre-recorded, or if we listen to music with or without lyrics. Currently, we have mixed results on whether or not lyrics enhance or take away from music’s effects. Although we have limited studies, live music seems to offer the most stress-reducing qualities than pre-recorded music.
Ways to Use Music
If you want to use music as a way to control your mood or manage emotions, here are some tips:
- Create a Playlist to Set a Mood: When it comes to creating playlists, find what works for you and experiment. For example, feeling low energy doesn’t always mean you want to listen to upbeat dance music. Try not to fall for assumptions about the type of music you need. Experiment and explore how certain music affects you. Alternatively, you can always use public playlists made by streaming services or other users.
- Play an instrument: Apps such as Yousician lets you learn multiple instruments, including singing.
- Sing: You can sing along when listening to music or use a Karaoke app.