Listening to music provides many benefits to both our mental and physical well-being. According to a Johns Hopkins study, “listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.” (I guess Christopher Walken got it right when he said, “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.”)
Keep reading for an overview of some of the ways music can contribute to your health.
Listening to music can relieve some symptoms of depression and generally elevate your mood. Studies show that music can boost your brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin and even reduce cortisol levels. (We knew there had to be a scientific reason why listening to Alanis Morrissette after a break-up feels so good.)
Your workout playlist may be pulling more weight than you realize. Listening to energetic music while exercising can increase your physical performance and endurance. It also just makes working out more fun! No one piece of music will impact everyone the same way, so find music that fits your mood and pace.
Research shows that music activates nearly every region of the brain. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, “listening to and performing music reactivates areas of the brain associated with memory, reasoning, speech, emotion, and reward.” In fact, “music doesn’t just help us to retrieve stored memories, it also helps us lay down new ones.” Studies have shown that singing lyrics can be especially helpful to people recovering from a stroke or brain injuries.
Live performances can develop a sense of community amongst concert-goers. Whether attending a concert at a stadium featuring Beyoncé or listening to an intimate performance by a jazz combo at a café, the communal act of listening to music with other people generates social connection. It takes a certain amount of planning and effort to seek out an artist or style of music that you like. Knowing you are surrounded by people who have made a similar effort to share in a collective experience (*cough* like attending a Hopkins Symphony Orchestra concert *cough*) can foster a sense of belonging and produce an improved feeling of well-being.
All in all, music has the ability to boost your health in a holistic manner, and is an inexpensive and accessible resource to have in your well-being toolkit. So, go ahead and jam out to your favorite playlists—and if anyone complains about the noise, remind them that listening to Doja Cat is actually essential to your health.