It’s Friday night, and you just finished a busy week at work. You clock out, are ready to head into the weekend and you start by blasting your favorite tunes in the car. Did you know that listening to music could be healthy for you? According to the Spiritual Care and Support team at Northshore University Health System, music provides benefits to our physical and mental well-being. The team shares that the part of the brain that processes music is called the Amygdala, which is the area that regulates moods and emotions.
Our brain has the ability to differentiate between music and noise. There are different pathways that decipher different parts of music, such as tone, pitch, tempo, and rhythm. Faster, more upbeat music can increase your heart rate, while slower music can result in more zen-like feelings. Research has shown that when music is played, blood may flow easier. This can lead to lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lower elevations of stress and anxiety levels, and increases in serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.
Increased development of dopamine hormones in the brain results in decreased levels of depression and anxiety. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is utilized by the nervous system to send signals between the nerve cells. It affects how we feel pleasure and emotions. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that music directly affects these neurotransmitters and the body’s “feel-good” chemicals.
Think of listening to music like going to the gym. When you work out, you are training your muscles and increasing your heart rate to get the blood pumping, letting more oxygen in, and fighting fat cells. Music has the ability to exercise the mind. Music has the power to raise these hormonal levels resulting in a happier mood. Research also shows that listening to music can stimulate the bodies’ biochemical stress signals.
Listening to music can take you on a walk down memory lane. Being reminded of happier times through music can lead to people being more sociable and open to sharing their past, creating stronger connections. Music can also affect food intake and the mood set around your dining experience. You may have noticed that some restaurants use dim lighting and soft background music. While this adds to the ambiance of the eatery it has also been proven that listening to soft music can help people eat slower which aids in digestion.
So next Friday, when you clock out of work, head to your car, and turn on your favorite song – you will go into the weekend happier and healthier!