In this thirteenth edition of ‘Monday’s Musical Musings’, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. Caitlin Beavis, our Assistant Community Welfare Advisor, asks the question ‘How can music affect your mental health?’
Music affects us in amazing ways. Whether it makes us sad, happy, excited, nervous, scared, motivates us, calms us down, or makes us dance, music can change the way that our brain functions.
We already are affected physically by music. We nod our heads, sway, dance. It can give us chills or make us cry. And it doesn’t matter what kind of music it is either. Studies have shown that it has to do with an emotional connection we feel to different songs or types of music.
Scientists have also found that there is no area of the brain that music doesn’t stimulate. Whether it is playing, composing, writing lyrics, singing, or just listening, different parts of the brain are affected in different ways.
Listening to music has also been shown to affect the amount of dopamine that is released. Dopamine is a chemical in our brains that play a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. If we love a song, more dopamine is released, which makes us happier. It helps us strive, focus and find things interesting. Even listening to a song that we hate can affect our mood!
In terms of mental health, it can be hugely beneficial to feelings of anxiety, depression or anger for the person to listen to music that they enjoy. The release of dopamine can help the person feel better, be able to concentrate more and provide them with pleasure instead of upset.
For me, I love listening to pop or rock songs as they make me feel happy. Anything with a heavy bass and guitar. However, I also like to listen to some calming music when I need to go to sleep or concentrate on doing something. If I listen to my favourite songs then I end up singing too much instead of doing what I am supposed to!
Mindlab Institution created a song named “Weightless” by Marconi Union. This song has been proven to decrease stress levels and levels of cortisol, as well as lower blood pressure. The researchers found that anxiety decreased as much as 65 percent in participants. The researchers also concluded that the following songs were the top ten songs at reducing stress and anxiety.
Marconi Union – Weightless
Airstream – Electra
DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)
Enya – Watermark
Coldplay – Strawberry Swing
Barcelona – Please Don’t Go
All Saints – Pure Shores
Adele – Someone Like You
Mozart – Canzonetta Sull’aria
Cafe Del Mar – We Can Fly
If you are about to embark on exams, creating a playlist of songs that help you relax could be a good way of supporting yourself and enabling you to stay calm. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up if you are feeling nervous, asking for help is the first step towards things getting better.