Can Music Alter Your Mood? #MentalHealth #Mindfulness #Mind #Leisure #Music

In my opinion music has got to be one of the greatest tings on the planet. I have found that by listening to various kinds of music, it can alter your mood greatly. There are so many different types of music out there, so which type does what? In a moment I will tackle this question.

After doing a bit of research I have found that music, if chosen correctly, can dramatically increase your pleasure states in your brain. Meaning, music can raise your serotonin, boost your norepinephrine, and dopamine. Also, studies have proven that music can dynamically show physiological indicators of emotional arousal. These physiological indicators include: changes in heart rate, respiration, electrodermal activity, body temperature, and blood volume pulse. This means that we can use individual pieces of great music to change our brain chemistries and physiological states in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. So, basically, music is a great medicine for both the mind and the soul.

Music can be used for numerous reasons. In it’s most simple form music is used to entertain. It is played at parties, weddings, sporting events, at home, or while driving. My favorite thing to do is to make a playlist on my IPod and hit shuffle, it can sure make a boring drive go by a lot quicker. I am that person you see singing at the top of her lungs while driving from here to there. I tend to get many a “double take” from complete strangers while sitting in traffic.

So many of us use music to help pass the time or make a monotonous task fly by. I know that I use music to help make cleaning the house a lot less tedious and exhausting. It would be quite boring without music to help entertain and allow the time to at least appear to pass quickly.

The second reason why people use music is for revival. Music can set the tone for your day or night. In order to get your day going, listen to something upbeat when you first wake up. It can put you in a better mood by listening to fun, happy music. Because music affects your mood, if you were to listen to slow songs in the mornings you might find it harder to wake up and get motivated to start the day. At night, when you are winding down or have had a stressful day at work or school, listen to music that will calm you. Slower beats, acoustic, or classical music can have a calming effect on the mind.

Another way people use music to their advantage is to receive a strong sensation. It can produce deep, thrilling experiences, particularly while performing or exercising.  Researchers found a positive correlation between faced paced music and exercise. It’s not too surprising that music works to increase exercising strength by distracting attention and pushing the heart and muscles to work at a faster pace. Not much is known about how or why it works, but it is thought to ease exercise. The best music to listen to is between 120-140 beats per minute, which also happens to be the standard tempo for upbeat dance music.

The next way music can be used to our advantage is by creating a diversion. Music distracts the mind from unpleasant thoughts which can easily fill the silence and decrease our anxiety.  This can help us from choking under pressure. In a study of basketball player’s who were prone to failing at the free throw line, research found they could improve the player’s percentage if they were to first listen to a catchy tune and hum it in their heads.  Listening to the Monty Python song, “Always look on the bright side of life,” caused the players to lose focus and execute their free throws with minimal involvement form the prefrontal cortex. If you are prone to getting anxious, worried, or choking under pressure, throwing on a humorous, light-hearted song before you perform might help distract your brain enough to keep you from failing. Distraction is considered one of the most effective strategies for regulating mood.

Using music to allow your body to discharge is another way to utilize it to your advantage. Music matching deep moods can release emotions having a purging and cleansing effect therefore boosting your immune system. Soothing music is known to decrease stress, and when it does that, it decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s not just soothing music though, even upbeat dance music is known to increase the level of antibodies in your system.

The sixth reason why people listen to music is to help them with mental work. Music encourages daydreaming, sliding into old memories, and exploring the past.  You may remember some reports back in the 1990’s that said studying while listening to Mozart increases the likelihood of performing well on a test, but that has been disproven in some studies, and in turn studies have shown some music has a negative affect on fact retention if you’re studying numbers or lists. Still, performing music has been proven to increase memory and language skills, but for listeners, it’s better used as a means to recall memories. It has been shown in Alzheimer’s patients to help with memory recall, and even helps restore cognitive function. When you listen to music you know, it stimulates the hippocampus, which handles long-term storage in the brain. Doing this can help bring out relevant memories you made while listening to a particular song. If you’re having trouble remembering something, you may have better luck if you play the same music you were listening to when you first made the thought.

Lastly, music has been shown to help fight fatigue, especially if you change up the music often. Studies have shown that almost all music increases your mood, because it causes a release of dopamine. So if you are feeling tired, bored, or depressed, a good pop song might just be the cure you need.

The following are various types of music and the effect they may have on your emotional state:

Folk music- virtually all folk music is serotonin boosting.

Jazz and Rhythm and Blues- Rhythm and blues can be pretty depressing, especially if you are already depressed. Don’t get me wrong- this genre offers a lot of great music, but most of the lyrics focus on life’s travails. Many people find this music highly cathartic and emotionally healing, but others can be brought even lower by the deep suffering that the music often expresses. Therefore, I recommend exercising caution in this category, at least until you feel ready to deal with your own deep emotional pain. Jazz on the other hand, can be incredibly uplifting and joyful. It can be melodic and soothing (thus a serotonin booster) or exciting and arousing (a norepinephrine booster). Choose the pieces you especially enjoy for their desired effects.

Rock and Roll: Most rock and roll is norepinephrine and dopamine boosting. However, rock is often hard to classify. Even hard rock bands produce serotonin-boosting songs from time to time, such as Guns and Roses’ “November Rain.” Also, many of the Beatles songs are serotonin boosters. Most modern rock and roll is arousing and consequently will boost norepinephrine and dopamine. There are endless choices to suit your tastes. Bruce Springstein’s album “Born to Run” is a classic norepinephrine and dopamine booster

Musical Theatre: The music of musical theatre is generally upbeat and inspiring. Many of the stories have a happy ending and this boosts serotonin, too. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Miss Saigon” – musicals that offer perhaps more catharsis than uplift. The following list includes the names of some classic serotonin-boosting musicals.

  • Cole Porter: “Anything Goes” and others
  • Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rogers: “ Oklahoma ”, “The Sound of Music”, “Carousel”, “South Pacific”, and many others
  • Frank Loesser: “Guys and Dolls” and others
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber: “Cats”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and others
  • Stephen Sondheim: “A Little Night Music” and many other
  • Marvin Hamlish: “A chorus Line”
  • Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe: “My Fair Lady”

Classical Composers: Most classical music will boost norepinephrine and dopamine, the following are examples of these.

  • Beethoven: most of the music from the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies is arousing and will boost dopamine and norepinephrine
  • Kabalevsky: “Gallop” from Opus 39, no. 18
  • Mozart: Overture from “The Marriage of Figaro”; Menuetto from “A Little Night Music”; Serenade no. 13
  • Tchaikovsky: most of “The Nutcracker” is arousing, as is much of Tchaikovsky’s music

I composed a music playlist of various serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine boosting songs on YouTube so you can just press play and you will have hours of great mood elevating music.

I have also done a post on my site about if music can get you high. Feel free to check it out.

If you have some favorite music that puts you in a great mood please comment below and let us know what songs you find especially uplifting.

About kimmymc80

I recently started Without A Label as an outlet for me to pour my heart and soul into. I often blog about how I have dealt with or overcome many obstacles in my life like an eating disorder, abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and panic disorder. I would like to say that my blog is a source of inspiration for those that may be struggling with the cards they have been dealt in life. Here is some info about me: Born Kimberly Lyann Hearn May 8, 1980 in Houston, TX. I was blessed with a wonderful loving mother and a rotten, abusive biological father. In 1984 my older brother, Chris, and I were adopted by my "step-father" (I hate that term because I consider him my real Father) and became Kimberly Lyann McPherson. During that same time we moved to The Woodlands, TX and my little sister, Jennifer, was born. Growing up I always looked up to my "step father" (Ronald McPherson) as my real father. I have been completely blessed in the Family department. If it wasn't for my wonderful parents and a village of angels I would not be here today. God has shown me time and time again that He comes first and He is in control, not me. I find that I sometimes have a daily struggle with trying to take back control from God, but I always learn in some way or another that I am not the one in charge, He is! I would like to live my life as an example for Christ! I am so completely imperfect and a horrible sinner, yet Jesus still died on the cross for me so that I may be clean. I thank God daily for sending Jesus for all of us because I know how much I need it. Without God I Would not be here! Yes, I know it all sounds too good to be true but I'm being completely honest when I say that God has saved my life. Call me what you wish, it will not change the fact that I am a child of God. It was the peaceful angels of grace that comforted me during my hardest struggles and continue to watch over me from day to day. I can honestly say that I am a walking miracle!
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9 Responses to Can Music Alter Your Mood? #MentalHealth #Mindfulness #Mind #Leisure #Music

  1. Eleni says:

    Wonderful article. You truly are blessed. I find a kinship with you in that I also deal with PTSD and ADHD, the latter of which I don’t see as a disability. I also enjoy listening to music when I’m coming up with story ideas. Nothing like the right music to open the mind.

    • kimmymc80 says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and to comment. It truly means the world to me. I am happy to have you as a new friend that understands what it is like to have to deal with PTSD and ADHD on a daily basis. I agree with you that ADHD is not as much of a disability as PTSD.
      I too listen to music when I am writing, I find that classical music works best for me. My absolute favorite is Beethoven! I could listen to his works all day long, they inspire me so much. You are so right that there is nothing like the right music to open your mind. I am so blessed to have you as a friend and I look forward to your return.
      Much love and abundant blessings,
      Without A Label

  2. Dennis says:

    This is a great post Kim. I’ve used music for a long time to influence my moods but my choice tends to run into the more metal, death metal, and other harder musics. Certain songs I have to avoid altogether because they can be enough to trigger me into a drastic unwell swing. Fun times, fun times.

    • kimmymc80 says:

      Oh, I hear that. I swear every time I listen to some heavy metal it makes my anxiety go through the roof. However, some of it helps me get out anger and frustration. I guess you just have to choose what music works for you. Thank you so much for commenting.
      Much love and abundant blessings,

  3. Lovestruck22 says:

    This article really helped me start a project that i have been working on. Country music always seems to make me feel better whether its a slow song or not. Thank you again.

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi I’m doing a term paper on music and health and I was wondering if you still had a list of sources you used to write this so I can do research.

  5. Robert Kluson says:

    I just wonder if there’s a way for U to send out your article to associations of music teachers in our school systems. I think that it would be excellent material for them to use to defend the continued funding of music programs in our schools. In this day and age the administrators (who most likely would not be musicphiles) seem to only respond to the ‘hard facts’. Your article would give them such information to pause and not be so draconian to music programs when school budgets have to be balanced.

    I hope that you continue to pursue this topic and send out a follow-up article. Myself I find myself going towards music that encourages my mindfulness of life. I find my sense of joy much more enhanced no matter what I’m doing . . . namaste

  6. Pingback: Music Meter | Five Thousand Pieces

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