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Music can play a big part in our lives.

Research suggests that music can stimulate the body’s natural feel good chemicals (Eg. endorphins, oxytocin), it can help energize our mood and even help us work through problems and provide an outlet for us to take control of our feelings.

For example music can help us to:

  • Promote Wellness
  • Manage Stress
  • Express Feelings
  • Enhance Memory
  • Improve Communication
  • Promote Physical Rehabilitation
  • Alleviate Pain – Did you know that focussing on music reduces your brain’s perception of pain?

Listening to music is a popular way to cope with difficult times, for example it can sometimes express how we are feeling or vent difficult thoughts and emotions for us. You may be able to relate to the music and find comfort from the words in a song.

By listening to music we may feel our mood or energy improve, but sometimes we may actually feel worse. So how can we work to ensure the way we use music has a positive effect on us?

What does your music do for you?

To find out how music affects you, try and become aware of the effect certain songs, styles, artists have on you.

Some music may allow you to sit with a mood, explore it, understand it, but not feel worse from doing so.

Other music might help you change a mood, or set a new mood. This can be a helpful if it helps you bring your mood/emotions to a healthier space.

To discover the effect music has on you consider:

  • Does the music allow you to sit with a mood, change a mood or set a new mood?
  • Does it make you feel better or worse?
  • Is it helpful to feel worse? When does it stop being helpful? For example rather than music having a calming effect on you, listening to it might make you feel more angry or anxious.
  • When is it not helpful?
  • Is it a certain style of music that is helpful or unhelpful or is it a certain artist or words in a song?

Managing our music

Once we are aware of how music affects us we can then start to intentionally select it.

Many people say that having their music on shuffle is not the best thing when they are having a tough time, instead being aware of their music choice and selecting songs or playlists that they know can help them cope in a positive way is more helpful.

By considering the questions listed above can help us work out which music would be on these playlists.

Why not have a go at creating a few playlists for different emotions i.e.

  • Music to wake me up
  • Music to energize me
  • My happy music
  • Music which vents frustration for me etc

Listening to music, doesn’t have to be the only way it can be helpful as you may find singing or dancing along is the actual factor that has the positive effect, so try putting on some great songs to belt along to, or you may like listening to live music, or actually writing and playing your own. The key is to become aware of how different music and use of it affects you.

By actively and intentionally selecting and using your music it can be a really helpful way to feel more in control of your feelings.

Take a look at our page Music and emotions, where men have talked to us about the music they listen to, to help express and regulate their feelings.

Acknowledgements

This information was prepared by Cheong-Clinch, Hense and Goulding 2012.  We are grateful to Tune in Not Out (www.tuneinnotout.com) for allowing us to include this information on our website.

Tune In Not Out (TINO) provides 24hr TV for life’s challenges from mental to sexual health. Tune In Not Out brings videos, factsheets, real stories and blogs from across Australia into one central point for young people to explore. Check it out at www.tuneinnotout.com

References

Grape, C., Sandgren, M., Hansson, L.O., Ericson, M., & Theorell, T. (2003). Does singing promote well-being? An empirical study of professional and amateur singers during a singing lesson. Journal of Integrative Physiological Behavioural Science, 38, 1, pp. 65-74.

www.musictherapy.org

2 comments

  1. Comment by HP

    HP Reply September 9, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Whats alpha brain waves. How much can music effect us?

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply January 11, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Hi HP,
      Thanks for your question :)

      It looks like you’re a student. May I suggest trying your University library – if you use the right search terms in the database you will be able to check out the most recent research findings on how music affects us and our brains.

      Best of luck!

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