18 May How Does Music Improve Our Well-Being?
What’s the first thing you do when you need some cheering up? Many turn to music to lift their spirits when they’re feeling a little blue. Music enhances all of our moods (especially happiness) and is generally good for our wellbeing.
What is well-being?
Happiness is an expression of subjective well-being, existing as a blend of pleasant fleeting emotions and a deep satisfaction with one’s life, over the span of time.
Well-being is all about maintaining balance over one’s emotions – both the positive and negative ones, being mindful of their individual experiences and expressing contentment for the life they’re living.
There’s a lot of evidence which shows that being in good physical health can also make you happier, and expressing positive emotions has a positive influence on your health. What this means is, if you have a healthy body, you’ll have a healthy mind and vice versa.
How is music related to happiness?
Happy music, which is generally faster paced and written in major key, gets our heart rate up and causes us to breathe faster. This is a physiological state which is generally associated with a happier state of mind.
With the help of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), research shows that the tunes that give us that ‘feel-good factor’ activate the ‘sweet spot’ in our brain, the limbic system. This region is wholly responsible for all the feels we feel through great food, sex, mind-altering substances and all stuff that makes us feel happy.
Such phenomenal feels would not be made possible without the lovely neurotransmitter dopamine that always leaves us wanting more of this feel-good stuff. Listening to music activates this same region in our brains – making it practically addictive.
Music is a Booster:
Music is known for increasing physical stimulation and this is because of the link between our auditory neurons ( for listening) and motor neurons ( for movement). This link is the reason what triggers our need to shake our booty when a fun beat comes on. On top of that, it also helps us coordinate our movements to the rhythm, which is why so many fitness instructors incorporate music into their routines.
The fact that music helps boost physical activity, does wonders for our self-confidence, as it shows us how truly capable we are of achieving our goals. And this has a positive impact on our self-esteem, which has a positive effect on the way we see ourselves.
Being able to love yourself and appreciate the things you’re capable of doing, is part of what well-being is all about. So, again, thanks music!
Music is Meditative:
People lose themselves to beats and vibrations and once the music stops they’re left feeling rejuvenated and happier. Losing yourself to the sounds of a DJ at 3am in a nightclub can also send you into a ‘nirvana-like’ state. Both music and meditation aim at creating a powerful transition to a positive state of being.
Both offer a space for us to shut our minds off for just a little bit, and be ever present in the here and now, fully focused on our senses and nothing else. So, music encourages us to be mindful and present, which does wonders for our well-being.
Music as therapy:
It’s proven that music therapy is an effective practice for patients suffering from depression and has also been used to reduce levels of anxiety and feelings of loneliness amongst elders. How can it help?
Here’s some psych trivia for you; music crosses the bridge between the two hemispheres in our brain: bringing together our cognitive thought processor and emotional response processor.
What does this mean? Connecting the two, helps people understand and articulate how they are feeling better. For this reason, music’s a great tool to use in therapy. Being able to explain your emotions helps you understand yourself better, and it also makes getting help easier.
Stronger mental health= better sense of well-being.
Music as an identity:
Remember your early teens? I’ve dabbled with a number of stereotypes through different music genres over the years to establish a sense of who I am. Music helps us embark on our voyage of self-discovery. The more sounds you explore, as you bounce from one genre to the next, the more refined your understanding of yourself becomes. It helps you interact with all kinds of people and open yourself up to new and exciting experiences along the way.
Music as a memory activator:
A good chunk of our memories have got a tune linked to them. Be it that one song you discovered on your first date in a dingy bar, or a classic anthem you belted out with your friends at a music festival.
When that song comes up on shuffle, be it on your way to work or at the supermarket, you’re instantly taken back to that moment and all the emotions you felt come flooding back. Even though your situation may have changed, those 3.5 minutes of your life contributed to the person you are today, and that’s something to be grateful for.
Music as a creative outlet:
If just listening to music makes you feel good, think about creating it. Almost all musicians claim that music is an outlet where they can direct any negative emotions into.
Creating music; by playing an instrument or putting a mix together, is a brilliant outlet for self-expression and stress relief. It’s also great for your confidence, once you get comfortable enough with it. Sharing your passion with the world and getting positive feedback, can break down some of your barriers and give you the strength to keep being your authentic self.
Music’s with us every step of the way. Through the fleeting moments; be it on the streets of Barcelona, in a club at 3am or when we’re powering through our morning run. It’s there to remind us of how far we’ve come and reflect on all that we’ve accomplished, and it’s there to help us through the darker times, so much so, that an entire psychological practice is dedicated to it.
So, I encourage you to go put your records on and let music’s transformative powers shine through you.
“To think is first of all to create a world (or to limit one’s own world, which comes to the same thing)”