What’s your favourite song?’
On the surface this seems like such an innocuous question, it should be simple to answer. But like so many people I know, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. What’s my favorite song? Well that depends on how I feel, the time of day, how I want to feel and if I’m on my own so I can sing out loud and dance a little.
Music is a very powerful tool for wellbeing, but one we often over look and this inspired us to hold a live Q&A session with our WYSA community last week to think about the part Music play’s in setting the mood.
On the surface this seems like such an innocuous question, it should be simple to answer. But like so many people I know, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. What’s my favourite song? Well that depends on how I feel, the time of day, how I want to feel and if I’m on my own so I can sing out loud and dance a little.
There is now so much interest in how Music effects the brain and our mood that there is a whole area of science devoted to it – Neuromusicology!
Music has been found to activate several major brain areas at once including the frontal lobe and cerebellum which regulate emotion.
The main way that Music effects mood is by stimulating the release of certain chemicals from the brain. When we listen to a rhythm our heart actually begins to sync with it. When we listen to slow music with sad narratives our heat rate often dips telling our brain that something sad or depression is occurring. When we listen to upbeat music our brain recognizes a rhythm linked to excitement or happiness. Moreover, when we listen to joyful or happy narratives our brains usually release chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine which makes us feel happy.
Studies by Dr Costas Karageorghis have gone on to prove that listening to fast beat tunes during a workout increases your stamina by releasing these hormones and blocking feelings of pain and fatigue – That must be why my gym playlist if full of Eminem!
Music as a tool for wellbeing
So listening to playlists might actually be a scientifically proven tool to help us feel better, but how do we go about it. Is there a cheat sheet to the best song’s to use?
The answer is unfortunately not, as our tastes play a part to. However there are some tips you can follow to help use Music as part of your own wellbeing routine:
1. Observe. Next time your plugged in to your headphones take a moment to think about how you are feeling listening to that song. Is it pumping you up or bringing you down? This will start to get you in the habit of recognizing that sometimes music could be negatively bringing your mood down.
2. Create some playlists. Song’s with motivational lyrics and fast paced tempo’s are more likely to increase dopamine whilst song’s with calming melodies and no lyrics are more likely to reduce the stress hormone cortisone. Depending on what we are doing, how we want to feel and how much coffee we have had the type of music we listen to might need to change
3. Move with it. Listening to music is a great way to start off all that chemical chain reaction but we can enhance the good it does by getting moving as well. Exercise is shown to increase those happy hormones to, so moving around whilst listening to a few of your favourite songs will help you feel even better. Movement can be anything from going for a quick walk or dancing with the hoover!
4. Sing along. Singing is also known to release feel good brain chemicals and is a natural antidepressant. There is a reason singing in the shower is a great way to start the day!