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Your Mind on Music

As 2016 begins, you may be looking for new ways to incorporate healthy habits into your life. Making wellness a priority is always a good idea and can be easy. In fact, some of the activities you already enjoy doing, when done proactively and intentionally, can have a positive effect on your mental health. Listening to and playing music is one of those activities.

Depending on the type and style, music has been proven to reduce stress, induce a meditative state, and even relieve symptoms of depression. When we listen to our favorite tunes, endorphins are released, our heart rate and breathing can be slowed, and our levels of stress-inducing cortisol can even decrease.

To benefit from the calming power of music, pick a time of day where you will be free of distraction, much like you would prepare for meditation. Headphones can help block out other noises and increase your focus. Pick your musical tracks wisely: slow beats can actually alter your brainwave speed and simulate what is it like for your brain during meditation or hypnosis. According to Stanford researchers, bringing your brain into these calming states can trigger a therapeutic effect which can ease headaches and behavioral issues.

If you are looking for a mood boosting effect, music can have a similar effect to exercise. After we take a brisk walk or even exercise in a gym, we often find ourselves in a good mood. This is due to the release of endorphins during our workout. Exercise can even alter our brain chemistry (much like medication) to reduce depression symptoms. Much in the same way, german researchers found that classical and meditative music was effective in relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety. This was especially true for hospitalized patients. In some cases, music was more effective than medication in reducing a patient’s anxiety before surgery. Music can calm us while releasing feel-good endorphins.

If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety or having a stressful day, consider setting aside time to simply listen to music. The calming effects of the slow, rhythmic beats can have a dramatic and positive effect on your mood.