How Can Music Affect Your Mood and Reduce Stress?

Did you know that listening to music has both a mental and physical impact on your body?

While most of us listen to music for entertainment, we should also know that it can help boost your overall wellbeing. From reducing stress and improving cognitive performance, to encouraging and inspiring creativity, the power of music is truly amazing. In fact, researchers at Stanford University have even claimed that music seems to be able to affect brain function “to the same extent as medication in many circumstances.”

1. Music can influence your mood

It won’t be a surprise to most that music can affect the human brain emotionally. We all have that one song that brings us to tears, at the same time as having a song that really pumps you up and gets you going again.

Music can have a massive effect on emotions, and that’s one of the reasons why composers add music to films – they want you to feel sad, happy, angry or scared at exactly the right time. You’ve probably chosen music yourself to evoke a particular reaction in your brain, just like when gym-goers put on a motivational playlist full of energy to get them through a workout.

All of this is, of course, backed by research that shows that music can affect our emotions in different ways. Happy, upbeat music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which evokes feelings of joy, whereas calming music relaxes the mind and the body. The research also showed though, that whilst music can influence our mood, our mood can also influence the music that we choose to listen to – that really explains Adele’s success with writing fantastically powerful break-up songs.

2. How music affects mental health

In the same way that music can make you happy, the same reaction and release of dopamine can be considered a natural antidepressant. When we’re talking about the way in which music can be used clinically, we’re talking about music therapy.

According to the British Association for Music Therapy, music can really help those with psychological, cognitive or communicative needs. Aiming to help mental health patients address issues they can’t address through traditional therapy; music therapy relies on a sensory stimulation to provoke a positive response to certain situations. It can include not only listening to music, but making music too.

One of the main reasons for the success of music therapy is that music helps keep your cardiovascular system in tune. Listening or performing music can have an affect on your heartbeat, either speeding it up if there’s a higher bpm on the track, or slowing it down when you hear more relaxing beats.

3. Music can reduce your stress levels

Music really is one of the best stressbusters out there. The soothing power of relaxing music and its close link to our emotions can be a really effective stress management tool, helping us cool down and maybe even take a breather. It can be a great way to distract yourself from a stressful situation, while also clearing the mind before readdressing the issue with a fresh outlook.

Listening to music has the potential to relax our minds as well as our bodies. In fact, research has shown that even heavy metal music can help lower your blood pressure. And with high blood pressure both a cause and symptom of stress, this shows that even the most intense music can help you cope with stress.

It’s not only your blood pressure that listening to music can lower, but also your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the human stress hormone, and the higher it is, the more stressed we feel. Research has found that symphonic music can lower cortisol levels, regardless of the listeners music preferences. So, if you’re feeling a little stressed, why not listen to some Beethoven? It might not be your cup of tea, but it’s proven to help you out.

Music affects the body in a whole host of different ways, and listening to music on a daily basis could really help promote your overall health and wellbeing.

Whether you’re into the Beatles, Beethoven or Boyzone, it might be worth popping on your favourite playlist while you’re at work too, to help manage your stress levels and boost your motivation.

For more information about how music can benefit you in the workplace, check out our blog on how music can affect productivity.

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