You’re nervous about an upcoming dentist appointment, but as soon as you slide into the chair and listen to relaxing music, you feel soothed. You’re stressed about a big presentation at work, but your favorite song instantly puts you in a good mood. This isn’t a mere coincidence. There is a science behind why music helps you relax. Let’s examine what happens when you listen to music and how people use it.
1. To Relax in Stressful Situations
When you walk into a department store in the mall and hear your favorite song, your blood pressure drops, your spirits lift and your pain leaves your body. All of this works to put you in a good mood, which retailers use to encourage you to spend more money in their stores. Depending on the industry, the tempo, loudness and message of the music changes to fit the demographic. A report in Psychology Today suggests that music creates different emotions in people. For example, low pitches may bring out sadness whereas high tones may be associated with happiness and humor. According to a study by R.E. Milliman, customers tend to spend more when the tempo of the music slows down and tip at a greater rate when tunes linger in the background.
Similarly, doctor and dentist offices use relaxing music to counteract the stress of appointments. This is a way to calm a patient’s nerves and put him or her at ease before entering the exam room.
2. To Conjure Positive Emotions
When you are rocking out to a favorite pop song in your car or humming Christmas carols during the holiday season, many things are happening inside your brain. A study by Daniel Levitin suggests the auditory cortex processes sounds, but music reaches the movement, memory and emotional parts of your brain. The brain likes the predictability of the rhythm and patterns of music, which is why you tap your feet to music you enjoy.
Studies suggest that music conjures positive emotions related to socializing, partying and having a great time.
- Neuroscientist Valerie Salimpoor’s research shows that the brain releases dopamine when listening to music and causes feelings of euphoria and craving.
- Listening to music also helps the brain recover from a traumatic injury and sharpens cognitive skills.
3. To Unwind at the End of the Day
Research shows that listening to music is beneficial to your well-being, so it’s a good idea to unwind at the end of the day by playing some relaxing songs. If you have varied taste in music or want to find something new, Shutterstock provides a great streaming service.
- At the end of the day, get comfy in a soft chair, dim the lighting, close your eyes and let the music take over your mood.
- If you want something a little more active, take a walk around your neighborhood with your headphones on and let the music distract you from the stress of your day.
So next time you feel stressed out, turn on the radio or plug-in your iPod and feel the positive effect on your mood.
Since the beginning of time every culture has used music to express themselves in many ways. Some use it to connect to their inner self, express their religious and spiritual beliefs, to improve our mood and reduce stress, or for just plain enjoyment and the love of it! So on your journey to a healthy lifestyle make sure you try to include music in your daily agenda.