After a long day, regardless of my mood, I select a playlist and tell Alexa to turn up the volume while I work in the kitchen. Some days I dance while chopping vegetables, other days I contemplate lyrics quietly while scrubbing pots. I know that this part of my routine is important to my overall well-being. I also try to get out to listen to music live on a regular basis. Feeling the music in my chest and moving my body with a bunch of other moving bodies around me brings peace to my soul. There are many benefits of music on mental health.
Benefits of music
Studies have shown various positive benefits of listening to music. Cognition and memory are both positively impacted by music and are actively used in memory care facilities as part of treatment. Music is also tied to motivation, endurance, and performance (what’s on your workout playlist?). There’s even evidence that music can reduce chronic pain.
But why is music so powerful? First off, studies have shown that music lights up your whole brain. That means it lights up areas related to motor functioning, creativity, and emotions. Particularly when looking at the rhythmic and tonal nature of music, we find activation of the limbic areas, which are responsible for mood. This is why your mood can be shifted by music you listen to- suddenly your crankiness melts away in the presence of a toe-tapping earworm. In addition to the music, there’s also the lyrics. Lyrics can be a way of connecting yourself to your emotions when you’re struggling to find the words for your experience. Cue flashback to listening to Linkin Park in High School or listening to Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers… yesterday. Songs and their words can be linked strongly to memories as well- which is why couples in love scrutinize over their first dance song.
Music is therapeutic
There are more benefits of music on mental health. From a therapeutic perspective, playing music can be easier than formulating words. Rather than a processing experience, it’s more experiential. What instrument can capture your mood right now? There are days when I’m definitely not a flute. What key? What is the tempo like? Give a kid a drum and they can tell you a story using only rhythm. It’s a beautiful thing.
Whether you listen, mix, compose, or just sing along to the radio, embrace how music fills your life. I know I do.
If you would like to know more about self-care, including music, contact us today.