benefits of music for mental health
Have you ever thought about what actually goes on inside your head when your headphones are in your ears? The playlist you listen to when you’re walking to work, running on the treadmill, or studying, has a bigger impact on your mental health that stretches beyond those moments of active listening. Interestingly enough, music can have a positive impact on the brain before we’re even born.
Something as easy as listening to music has been proven to enhance focus in many scenarios, the most popular being-–studying for exams. Classical music with a tempo of 60 BPM (beats per minute) has been proven to assist the brain in reaching its highest potential for retaining and executing information. A more obvious usage of music to better your mental health is using it as a form of expression. Sometimes, expressing your emotions without speaking is easier than sitting down and being forced to converse with your feelings. Singing or dancing to a song that speaks for how you feel encourages your brain to rid itself of negative thoughts and emotions that harbor resentment and anger. In fact, Music Therapy has become very popular due to its effectiveness on the mind. As previously mentioned, music can be easily utilized to regulate mood. Due to its rhythmic and repetitive aspects, music engages the neocortex of the brain. This calms the body and reduces impulsive tendencies. To alter different mood states, music therapists may play music to match the current mood of a person and slowly shift to a positive, calm state of mind with notes and rhythms.
It goes without saying that music can be an extremely effective way to reduce stress and anxiety at home. The benefit of using music as a strategy to calm the mind is that it’s easily accessible and usually free. Turning on the radio actually promotes relaxation–even if you’re not giving it your full attention. Different muscles and tendons in the body are able to release tension and stay loose, all while telling the mind to follow by example. For instance, listening to music as you drift off to sleep will help you naturally slow your breathing and calm the mind by giving your body permission to let go of negative energy. In fact, a recent study by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International has shown instrumental, classical, or ambient music can help reduce anxiety by up to 65%.
Believe it or not, we begin to receive the mental benefits of music before we’re even born. It’s been proven that music has a role in brain development before birth. Listening to music during pregnancy will not only have a positive effect on a pregnant woman, but a positive influence on her unborn baby. Around 16-18 weeks of pregnancy, babies hear their very first sounds. By 24 weeks, the ears begin to develop rapidly, and babies have been shown to turn their heads in response to voices and noise. Soothing melodies can help reduce stress and stimulate the brain for a developing fetus, which in turn creates a healthy environment for growth.
Music has a lot more value than its traditional entertainment purposes. Listening to different melodies in different settings can help us maintain a balanced headspace and encourage us to keep moving #foreverforward.
We put together a holiday playlist to encourage you to listen to more music. So grab your headphones and get to listening.