Music has a profound ability to alter the way we feel, boost energy levels, calm us down, and unite us with others. The ways music affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally are all still being explored. They aren’t well understood, but they cannot be denied. We’ve all experienced a time when a song brought us to tears, unified us with a group during a concert, pushed us to run an extra block, or played upon our heartstrings to bring up old memories. Use these properties of music to enhance your life.
You can harness the power of music to amp up your productivity. Fast paced, upbeat music can get you moving in more ways than just on the dance floor. Music can drive you to work faster, think clearer, and dig deep. Music also blocks out distracting or annoying noises that can keep you from working. Choose music that inspires you. It will release endorphins that make you happy and more focused while you work. Studies show that people who listen to music at work complete tasks more quickly and come up with better ideas. Want to get ahead at your job or in your exercise routine? Slide on those headphones.
Music can get you started in the morning. Much like the productive tunes you might listen to at work, the right mix of beats can get you out of bed and animated for the day. Try music that builds as it goes, getting louder and faster. These types of melodies will actually get your blood flowing by speeding your heart rate slightly, improving circulation, sending oxygen and nutrients soaring through your body and your brain, and raising energy levels as cells respond. Put together a good mix of songs to get you going in the morning and anytime you feel your energy levels sliding downward.
Music can calm your mind and your soul when you need to relax, remove stress, and prepare for sleep. Choose soft, slow melodies that promote tranquility. These have been used to promote healing and well-being in cancer patients who need to release stress and anxiety to sleep well and get the healing process working to its fullest. Studies show peaceful, soothing music is as effective in reducing anxiety and stress in pre-surgery patients as sedatives. In many cases it was even more effective. Music reduces pain, whether it be after surgery, during labor, chronic pain, or during workouts. Calm music lowers blood pressure. Music also seems to play a role in improving the immune system, increasing antibodies and killer cells that fight off invaders.
Music unites you with others. Who hasn’t immediately identified with someone who listens to the same bands they also enjoy? Who hasn’t been caught up in the middle of a concert, swaying, singing, or dancing with hundreds of others in near unison? Studies show that people experience the same pieces of music in much the same way. Unlike vision which many of us experience in very different ways, the melodies in music trigger the same pathways in those who listen. Music literally makes people one in thought for brief moments. This may improve our empathy for others, a virtue we all should nurture.
Music can change our mood. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression. By listening to music you love, you immediately change the way you feel toward something more positive. You release endorphins that make you calmer, happier, and more carefree. You can also use music to bring out other emotions. Music can help you tap into sadness and loss when someone you love passes away. Music can trigger tears when you need the cathartic release that weeping can give. Music can give you courage when you face a competitor or need to ask for a raise. It can tap into anger too. For that reason, choose your music wisely.
Music improves the mind. Listening to music you love improves test scores, special awareness, memory, verbal memory, sound processing ability, creativity, and clarity of thought. Music has the capacity to trigger multiple parts of the brain simultaneously, convey a multitude of emotions, prevent mental degeneration, and even alter the structure of the brain, especially in those who also play instruments or sing. It used to be thought that classical music was the key to improving the mind, but now scientists know that it is music you enjoy, that resonates with you, that changes your mood for the better that truly has these benefits. You don’t have to listen to Mozart. Choose what makes you happy.
Music’s power continues to amaze scientists. They have found that those with organ transplants could prevent the risks of rejection with music. Music may help stroke victims recover faster. Melodies can improve mobility in the elderly. Don’t forget that music is also very entertaining. Music, for whatever evolutionary reason, drives us. It is not going away any time soon and we wouldn’t want it to.