Do you listen to music on a regular basis? Maybe you tune the radio dial to a favorite station while you cook or pop in your earbuds when you head out for a walk. Personally, I’m such a dinosaur that I still enjoy the CDs from my large collection acquired over many years.

Personal preferences in music for listening are closely connected with past experiences and associations. For example, many of us feel a special fondness for the “oldies” that were popular during our high school years. Similarly, couples may have a special song that holds emotional significance and reminds them of their courtship or wedding.

Within the past 50 years, advances in technology have impacted our ability to make music listening a personal experience. For the first time in history, we can carry our music with us and listen to personal music choices in otherwise shared, public spaces.

Did you know that your music listening habits may be leading you to better physical, mental, and emotional health? That’s a win-win situation worth exploring.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction

According to studies cited by the National Institutes of Health, “everyday music listening” contributes to health and well-being. For example, patients in a Greek hospital found increased tolerance to pain when they were listening to their favorite music during kidney dialyses.

In other studies, participants felt less anxious, more in control, and more able to tolerate pain while they listened to music of their own personal preference.

No two people will be affected by the same piece of music in the same way. Simply listening to any random piece of music will not produce the results you want. Instead, you should select your favorite genre of music for enjoyment.

Listening to music can produce benefits like those you get from meditation. In one study, researchers found that music listening yielded positive results that were similar to meditation for elevating mood, getting better sleep, and improving quality of life.

Because listening to music can reduce anxiety and relieve depression, it can be combined with meditation to produce even greater benefits. Quiet music with a familiar melody can be an aid in meditation to produce a feeling of calmness.

If you’re listening to music for the purpose of destressing, you should focus on the music. Don’t try to do other work while the music plays in the background. Instead, focus on listening to slow, calming music while you allow your mind to relax.

Sharper Brain Performance

For students of all ages, educators use music listening as an aid to learning in the classroom. Researchers find that music listening can positively affect learning and cognitive processes.

In one study, researchers played classical music while participants performed cognitive tasks. They found that listening to the background music improved mental performance. Specifically, listening to music improved the speed of spatial processing and the accuracy of linguistic processing.

In a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine, researchers used brain imaging to study how the brain reacts to music listening. They found that music listening activates areas of the brain that help us to pay attention to incoming information. Therefore, music listening helped participants’ brains to sort out information and update memory.

Increased Energy and Exercise Motivation

Modern-day technology allows us to take our favorite music with us when we’re walking, jogging, or working out at the gym. Introducing music listening into your workout routine can produce distinct benefits.

Listen to energetic, up-tempo music to motivate you while you exercise. Choose music that has a marked, steady beat and happy lyrics. Additionally, you’ll want music that captures your attention and keeps you entertained through the workout.

As stated in a report from the University of New Hampshire: “Music can distract people from the pain and fatigue they are experiencing when they workout, all while boosting a person’s mood, increasing endurance, reducing perceived effort, and promoting metabolic efficiency.”

Better Sleep

We know that music listening can reduce stress and relieve anxiety. If you’re looking for better sleep quality, music listening may be the answer.

Listening to calm, soothing music at bedtime can help you sleep. Music with a slow tempo and pleasant, harmonious sounds can help you to unwind before trying to sleep. The effects of the music will aid in relaxation, allowing you to slow your breathing. This will help to decrease tension, blood pressure, and heart rate.

If you have trouble getting to sleep, try music listening as an alternative to a sleeping pill. A report from the National Institutes of Health states that music listening can be used as an economical, non-pharmaceutical sleep aid.

Improved Mood

Many of us have experienced the mood-lifting effects of music. Now, researchers know that chemical changes in the brain cause these effects.

Listening to music stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain, causing the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. Moreover, music listening stimulates the release of endorphins and oxytocin to energize your mood.

To elevate your mood, select music with a happy, light quality and uplifting lyrics. No one genre of music will elevate mood for everyone. Your favorite type of music will work for you.

While one person might select hip-hop, another will be drawn to Christian rock or disco music from the 1970s. There is no prescription other than to say that music choice is completely individual. Listen to whatever music makes you feel good.

What is your favorite type of music? In what ways do you use music listening to enhance your quality of life? Have you experienced the power of music listening to improve your physical, mental, or emotional health? Let us know by leaving a comment. We’d love to have a conversation!

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