Each and every one of us encounters music on a daily basis, whether it’s that catchy commercial jingle, the radio playing in the waiting room of your dentist’s office, or your favorite melody you sing every night to your grandchildren.
Music is everywhere, and research shows that – early Christmas tunes aside – this is a good thing. Check out these 5 mental and emotional benefits of listening to music.
1) Music Alleviates Depression
Music therapy can be used to alleviate depression in both adults and children, and it can even lead to improved self-esteem and interpersonal skills. So, the next time you feel down, try playing your favorite song, because…
2) Music Increases Positive Emotion
Neuroscientists have discovered that listening to music increases positive emotions through the reward centers of our brains essentially stimulating hits of dopamine, a chemical in our brain that affects emotions. This causes us to feel good and cause emotions like happiness and excitement. In other words, playing your favorite music is medically proven to lift your spirits!
3) Music Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Research has shown that listening to music, especially music with either a slow tempo and low pitch, or without lyrics, can have a calming effect. Music can also reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, like increased heart rate, high blood pressure and elevated cortisol levels.
4) Music and Memory
Multiple studies have been conducted that show the relationship between listening to music and strong memory. Adults and children alike find that music helps them focus more clearly and concentrate better. And, bonus: music can help them remember what they learned, too!
There is one caveat, however. Music with lyrics can actually be distracting, so if you are preparing for a big presentation at the office or reading a book to learn a new skill set, try listening to classical music or nature sounds like a babbling brook, wind rustling through the trees or ocean waves!
5) Music and Motivation
On the contrary, fast-paced music with a quick tempo can actually motivate you, this is especially true during physical activity like walking or working out at the gym. If you are looking to pump yourself up before a big meeting or before your weekly game of golf with your friends, turn on an upbeat tune to get you motivated!
Music and the Brain
All of these health benefits sound great, (pun intended), but how exactly do we hear music?
Well, music, like any sound, arrives at the ear in the form of sound waves. First, the ear collects the sound waves, then they funnel through the ear canal into the eardrum. As these sound waves arrive at the eardrum, it begins to vibrate. These vibrations travel along the tiny bones of the middle ear until they reach the bone known as the stapes, and are eventually channeled to the cochlea. From here, the cochlea releases chemical neurotransmitters that active the auditory nerve (Harvard).
This entire process may seem rather complicated, but what’s most important is that music cannot be enjoyed without proper hearing.
Whether you enjoy classical, country, jazz or just listening to your grandchildren sing a new song they learned at school, don’t miss out on both the beauty, and health benefits, of listening to music.
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