Improve Your Mental Health with Music

Music can have amazing effects on our mood and mental health. When we listen to music, it has a direct impact on our mind and body, and can mean the difference between a good and a bad day. Whether you like rock, rap, metal, country, or any other genre, you can start improving your mental health just by putting on your headphones.
Music can act as a medium for processing emotions and has been used as therapeutic tool for a variety of mental health conditions. In a 2016 National Alliance on Mental Illness article, The Impact of Music Therapy on Mental Health, Molly Warren explains, “Music can be utilized to regulate mood. Because of its rhythmic and repetitive aspects, music engages the neocortex of our brain, which calms us and reduces impulsivity. We often utilize music to match or alter our mood. While there are benefits to matching music to our mood, it can potentially keep us stuck in a depressive, angry or anxious state. To alter mood states, a music therapist can play music to match the current mood of the person and then slowly shift to a more positive or calm state.” The effects of active listening on the mind and body can be dramatic. In an interview with Dr. Daniel Levitin for the American Psychological Association, Dr. Levitin explained, “early evidence says that music can alter pain thresholds. It can increase immune system functions. There’s stronger evidence that it can affect mood and heart rate and respiration rate. So, fast stimulating music stimulates the production of adrenaline and other hormones that get your heart racing faster and your pulse increases and blood pressure increases and then soothing, relaxing music has the opposite effect.” Whether we want motivation, relaxation, increased focus and concentration, or just to feel better emotionally, we can turn to music. Tom Petty was right when he said, “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.” Next time you’re feeling down, put on your favorite song and listen—you might just feel a whole lot better.

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