How Music Can Promote Your Mental Health

Music can be a central component to our well-being and here we look at why it’s helpful and what we can do to bring this into our lives more.

There are vast tangible benefits to ensuring music is part of our lives and we’ve all had some fabulous times with friends and family that involve music and often dancing.  For many, music accompanies some of the best times in their lives as well as evoking lovely or emotional memories.  Music has great meaning in our lives, so would it be helpful to listen more and to listen in ways that enhances our experience.

‘As long as there’s been an International Space Station, there’s been astronauts playing instruments onboard’.  Psychologists were insistent that music was available on the ISS as it’s researched to be a central component of our well-being and boosts morale.

Why listening to music is good for us –

  • As an aesthetic stimulus (which is about having an appreciation for art or beauty), it stimulates dopamine production which is a happiness hormone linked to feeling motivated. Ultimately, it helps us feel good.
  • Other parts of the brain are activated stimulating pleasant emotions.
  • Music can evoke memories which can then evoke emotion. This helps us process our emotions and is a strong method of emotional regulation.
  • Listening to music can be a break from the stresses and strains of life – a problem free time to relax.
  • For many it’s a way to escape. We are able to embrace what we’re listening to and be in the moment with it.
  • Studies show that listening to upbeat music can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, increase mood, improve sleep and help with our general well-being.
  • Listening to classical or relaxing music up to an hour before bedtime has shown to increase quality sleep compared to listening to an audio book.
  • It can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • It fundamentally feels good. We dance to music which is a joyous way to spend any of our time.
  • It aids expression and gets us in touch with how we’re feeling.

How to listen to music – This may seem like obvious but if we’re going to listen to music, why not make it the best experience possible?  There are some things to enhance the experience, such as: –

  • Make a conscious decision to listen such. This includes what you’re going to listen to, on what device and what volume.  This could be blasting out music to sing-a-long to, to having something passive in the background or having headphones in for your daily commute.
  • Make playlists. You can theme playlists for different occasions or just making a new playlist means you want to listen to it with positive anticipation
  • Try something new as expanding what you listen to allows you to compare different genres more deeply and intensifies your experience
  • Use different means such as delving into your CD/record collection, using a streaming service or watching videos via the music channels or YouTube
  • Make time – have your own weekly music session.
  • You can take this further my being more mindful when listening such as seeking to listen to the lyrics or pick out a specific instrument.
  • Consider investing in quality equipment for cleaner and crisper sounds. Also buying a new speaker or stereo encourages us to use it more

I would invite You this week to consider music and if there’s anything more you’d like to do – to enhance your listening, to dance, sing out loud, to express, to have fun or just to chill in the bath with.

Feel free to post a comment.  Can you share a great experience that involved music?  Can you share a lyric that means something to you?

May Love and Kindness be Yours

 

Best wishes, Duncan

 

References

Ament, R (2019).  How to Actually Listen to Music [online]. Available at https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/08/22/how-to-actually-listen-to-music/ [Accessed 12 Feb 2022]

Dean, C (2021).  Why Playing a Musical Instrument Benefits Your Mental Health [online]. Available at https://paintedbrain.org/news/why-playing-a-musical-instrument-benefits-your-mental-health/ [Accessed 12 Feb 2022]

Mancini, M (2021).  Astronauts Play Music in Space [online]. Available at https://science.howstuffworks.com/astronauts-play-music-in-space.htm.  [Accessed 11 Feb 2022].

Tirosh, G (2021).  Is Listening to Music Good for your Health [online]. Available at https://musicoholics.com/song-meanings/is-listening-to-music-good-for-your-health/ [Accessed 12 Feb 2022].

SCL Health (2019).  How Listening to Certain Songs Can Impact Our Brain and Affect Our Mood [online]. Available at https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/04/how-listening-to-certain-songs-can-impact-our-brain-and-affect-our-mood/ [Accessed 12 Feb 2022].

Special thanks for research, content and images go to our new Digital Media Assistant – Ethan Quinney

Comment 1

  1. Duncan
    15th February 2022

    Can you share a great experience that involved music?
    Being at a summer festival bouncing to the Oasis tribute band with my eldest on my shoulders – not sure I could do this now tho.

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