This past Sunday I posted about how listening to music plays a role in my self-care. Many other people I’ve spoken with say the same thing. They love listening to music to boost their mood or have a ‘good cry.’ So with that in mind, I decided to do a deeper dive into how listening to our favorite songs can effect our brain. As it turns out, there’s a lot of data on how music impacts our brains. Here’s just a sample…
According to this article from Medical News Today, the way that music affects the brain is very complex. All aspects of music — including pitch, tempo, and melody — are processed by different areas of the brain.
The cerebellum processes rhythm, the frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music, and a small portion of the right temporal lobe helps understand pitch. I think my right temporal is quite small because pitch constantly eludes me, but my cerebellum is pretty well developed. 😆
Now that we know listening to music can positively impact our mental health, how can we ‘use’ it to our benefit?
Here’s what this article from ReachOut.com has to say:
FOCUS: Classical music is a winner at helping you focus. Music that has a tempo of 60 bpm (beats per minute) increases the efficiency of the brain in processing information. The best way to use it is to have it playing softly in the background as you get on with your tasks.
EXPRESSION: The next time you’re finding it hard to talk about or express your emotions, try turning to music for help. Creating your own music – whether simply strumming a guitar or composing lyrics to a song – can help you express and process your emotions. It’s more about how it makes you feel, than how it sounds. Remember that no one ever has to hear your music if you don’t want them to.
SOCIAL CONNECTION: Music can stop you from feeling lonely or isolated. Whether it’s sharing playlists with your friends, or meeting new, like-minded people at your favorite band’s next gig, music connects people.
CREATIVITY: Listening to or making music allows your brain to think creatively! So, whether it’s a creative project you need to complete (say writing a blog), or some new ways to improve your mood, try some different types of music and see what works best for you.
RELAXATION: Okay, so this isn’t a huge scientific breakthrough, but it’s worth repeating: music helps you to relax. If you choose the right kind of music, change into some comfy clothes and put your feet up, it’s a safe bet that you’ll feel relaxed in no time.
MOTIVATION: You need to vacuum the house/study/get some exercise, but you just can’t get off the couch? Use your favorite music as a motivational force. Crank up the volume on a killer tune and chances are you’ll find it that much easier to get started.
My recommendation for good mental health music is to check out YouTube videos from the crazy talented Marsh Family. They’ve been making music videos during British lockdown, with the most viewed being a spoof of “One Day More” from Les Mis. But I like watching their instrument skills in this one below. I’m sure playing together has been great for their mental health. Now we can enjoy watching them for our own health. 😊 (Keep an eye out for the dog that’s roaming around!) Take care everyone, and feel free to comment on what music you’ve been listening to during this pandemic to help ease your mind.