How Can Music Affect Your Mental Health?

How Can Music Affect Your Mental Health?

Have you ever had a bad day but turned your mood around by listening to your favorite song in the car? There is more and more research showing that music can affect our health and well-being. There are even music therapies that help treat mental health disorders, such as depression, and are helpful when treating patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. We are just beginning to tap into how we can use music to benefit our health. 

What Happens in Our Brains When We Listen to Music?

When we listen to music, we activate almost every area of our brains. Auditory processing is activated first, but music engages our brains in many other ways too! 

Activates Memory

Music activates our memory centers, especially if the song is associated with a particularly meaningful memory, such as the first dance of a wedding or a concert from your formative years. Interestingly enough, music can also activate our motor system, which is what leads you to bob your head or tap your foot to the beat of the music. 

Initiates Hormone Responses

Some other amazing responses happen in our brains when listening to music. Playing music that you are familiar with and like can activate the pleasure center of your brain. As soon as your brain recognizes the music, it will release dopamine and oxytocin into your system, natural chemicals that make you feel happy. 

Aids in Stress Reduction

Music might also reduce the cortisol levels in your brain, which is a stress-related hormone. Music can also trigger the parts of our brains responsible for regulating our emotions. Our brains can trigger emotional responses so that our moods coincide with the mood of the music we are listening to. You will feel happier if you are listening to happy music.

Strengthens Cognitive Functioning

Since music activates so many different areas of your brain, it has a significant impact on cognitive functioning. Just like the more you use a muscle, the stronger it will become, our brains can become stronger and more efficient when being stimulated. Listening to music regularly can help strengthen your brain’s neural pathways. When you listen to music it can improve your ability to learn new things. If you listen to the same music as you were when you learned something it can actually help you remember what you learned.

Improves Mental Health

With all the incredible things that take place in our brains while listening to music, it is bound to have a significant impact on our mental health. Music can help us improve our quality of life. It is a powerful tool that can help you regulate your moods, spike the pleasure you are feeling and improve your cognitive functions. 

The next time you are feeling down or your brain is feeling foggy, try playing your favorite song. Increase the benefits by pairing it with fun physical activities like dancing or relaxing activities like yoga.

What Kind of Music Will Produce the Most Notable Benefits?

The link between positive mental health and music has less to do with the type of music and more to do with your personal preference. Listening to songs that you connect with will have the most effect on you. Whether your preference is heavy metal, smooth jazz, or reggae, if you enjoy it, you will get a positive mental boost from listening to it. Music is deeply personal to each person, and so are its effects on us. 

Some highlights include:

  • Listening to music that you know gives you the strongest reaction in your brain. 
  • Listening to new music can also be beneficial, as unfamiliar music leads your brain to make new connections as you process the unfamiliar melody, rhythm, and lyrics. 
  • Like learning new information, listening to new music will engage and exercise your brain.

How to Incorporate Music Into Your Life

One way to enhance the effect music can have on your brain is to devote some time to active listening. We often have music playing in the background while we accomplish other tasks. While that can positively impact our mental health, we can heighten the effects by setting aside time to listen to music. Focusing solely on the music will not only give our busy brains a nice break but also help us get the most benefits.

Be Mindful

During our music session, we should try to be mindful of the effects of music on our minds and bodies. Try to be aware of any physical sensations you are having. Does it relax you or make you want to get up and dance? Did your heart rate increase? Did you get goosebumps? Take note of the mental process as well. What emotions does the music make you feel? Does it bring up any memories for you? These can be powerful tools if you are looking to incorporate music into a positive mental health maintenance routine. 

Your mental health is a unique and deeply personal experience. There are so many different ways to boost your mental health. That’s why it is important to find what works for you! Alter Wellness Care can help you find the best ways to improve your mental well-being.

Taking care of our mental health should always be a top priority. Listening to music to promote a healthy mindset can be a fun and relaxing way to boost your mood. For more information on music therapies and how music can be beneficial for your mental health, contact us at Alter Wellness Care. We can help you create a positive mindset and establish healthy thought patterns. If you are struggling with mental health, we provide numerous services that can help you today. We care about your mental health, and our goal is for our clients to thrive. Call us at Alter Wellness Care today at (866) 311-3510 for more information on positive mental health practices.  

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