Originally posted on TheHealthyVoyager.com
It’s no secret that music benefits the mind. Whether you’re listening to music as you head to work, attending a live performance, or bringing your favorite tunes along on a workout, music can have a profound impact on your mood and may even help to reduce your stress levels. Learning and playing music, whether it’s classical, guitar, drums, or another instrument, is a great way to keep your mind and body happy, engaged, and fulfilled.
Here are some ways in which music can help in exercising the mind.
- Boosts creativity: By habit, we generally listen to the same music in our teens and 20s, which lulls us into a comfort zone that can be hard to get out of, according to Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist Charles Limb. Listening to different genres may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but it boosts creativity by persuading the brain to understand new sounds, Limb suggests.
- Enhanced memory: Music can enhance your memory and encourage creating, storing, and retrieving memories faster and more efficiently. Studies have suggested that musicians’ brains are often composed of memory tags, such as conceptual, emotional, and audio tags. It has also been shown that musicians have a heightened volume and activity in their corpus callosum, or the link between the brain’s two hemispheres, which may assist them in solving problems in a more creative and effective manner.
- Increased happiness: Music can encourage a wide range of emotions, including happiness. You may have noticed that some of your favorite songs leave you feeling a bit more energetic and pumped up. All this is the result of increased levels of dopamine, a chemical released by the brain that directly relates to feelings such as happiness, joy, and excitement.
- In some instances, the level of happiness is on par with what you experience after eating a favorite food or engaging in your favorite activities. It’s not surprising to find that music with a faster tempo, especially when played in a major key, tends to make people happiest.
- Increases learning: Music forces us to use both the left and right side of our brains, a process that enhances connections between brain cells while improving memory and enabling us to differentiate between speech and sounds. Playing or listening to music helps to build crucial parts of the learning process, such as emotional maturity, critical thinking, attention, sensory integration, and motor capacities.
- Improved sleep quality: Music can help to reduce stress and anxiety—two of the most common factors that interfere with a person’s sleep habits. So if you find yourself tossing and turning at night, you may find it helpful to listen to music at various times throughout the day, which can promote better sleep patterns.
It’s never too late to begin taking music lessons or to search for a teacher who can help you get the most benefits out of music. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced professional, setting aside a few hours for lessons each week can greatly improve your mental health.