We all go through times of stress in our lives. To cope we may go for a run, lift weights, draw, paint, write, etc. As for myself no matter what activity I do there is always a constant that comes with whichever strategy I use to relieve stress, music. In a previous blog I wrote (“Exercise and Mental Health” please go check it out) I talked about how the physical responses the body has when exercising and how it can affect your mood, and other aspects of your physical and mental health. I’m taking a similar approach with this blog, but focusing on our body’s responses to music.
I listen to a wide variety of music genres, but anyone who knows me knows that rock music is my favorite. From 60s, 70s, and 80s classic rock to today’s hard rock and heavy metal, and everything in between, it doesn’t matter. I’ve always listened to music to get myself amped up before playing baseball, or to get in the zone before a ski race back in high school. When I got to college it helped me focus and study.
Reflecting on this, and thinking about other times I used music to help me cope with stress from work, family life, etc. I wondered why music helped, other than the fact that I like the artists that I listened to. So I looked into it, and this is what I found…
Research has shown listening to music can help reduce cortisol levels (“stress hormone”), lower heart rate, and decrease mean arterial pressure. Reduced cortisol levels can lead to less negative emotions and feelings, anxiety, restlessness or nervousness. Additionally these lower levels can promote an increase in positive emotions and feelings. Listening to music while participating in a group activity can also be beneficial as feelings of togetherness and bonding may be attributed by the release of the neurotransmitters endorphin and oxytocin, which both play an important role in the defensive response to stress. Lastly, listening to music can help to lower stress levels by simply providing distraction from stress-increasing feelings or thoughts.
If you take into consideration the positive benefits your mental health exercise has (again seriously check out my other blog if you haven’t, and want to learn more) and couple it with listening to music, you give yourself one super boost of benefits to your mental health. So when life is kicking you while you’re down, you’re overwhelmed by life, etc. go ahead and crank up your favorite tunes to 11. I’ll be sure to be headbanging my stress away along with you.
David Derco, PTA