Editor’s Note: At CiV Digital, we occasionally write about larger cultural and societal trends and their intersection with the digital space.
Music is a very powerful and mysterious thing. Technically, it shouldn’t be any different from any other sound, yet it often has a profound effect on people that mere noise does not. Music can make you nostalgic for the past, calm you when you’re nervous, and give you motivation when you have no energy. Strangely enough, we also take these effects for granted. It turns out that there are a lot of fascinating connections between music and health that we don’t always think about. If you’ve ever wondered why you feel better after listening to certain songs or why you can’t seem to get through a workout without a set of headphones (or earbuds), here are just some of the many ways that music and health are so intricately linked.
Music Impacts Mood
The most obvious way that music affects your health can be felt in how it changes your mood. Quiet music with a slow tempo and no lyrics reduces anxiety and helps people relax, while faster, more upbeat music stimulates mental and physical activity in ways that makes physical activity easier. Music has even been shown to reduce pain somewhat in patients undergoing medical procedures. This is mainly because music stimulates the brain and causes it to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is associated with feelings of euphoria.
It shouldn’t be any different from any other sound, yet music often has a profound effect on people that mere noise does not.
Music Improves Memory and Cognition
Rhythm, melody, and other repetitive elements of music can actually improve memory and cognition. These effects have been seen in everyone from Alzheimer’s patients, stroke victims, and children on the autism spectrum. It is also the reason why music can help students as they study. Classical music seems to be particularly good for studying thanks to its often soothing rhythms and complex harmonies. This has been dubbed the “Mozart effect” since the music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has proven to be particularly effective in helping certain activities like memorization and studying and improving cognition.
These are just a few examples of the power of music, and we’ve just scratched the surface on the connection between music and health. We’ve been aware that there has been some connection pretty much since the beginning of recorded human history, but we are seeing it more now thanks to the proliferation of music streaming services and devices. Music is more portable and accessible now than it has ever been before, and it is giving people more opportunities to take advantage of the benefits that music has always had to offer; and even explore new ways to integrate into everyday life.
So, the next time you’re feeling anxious, need help cranking out one last rep in the gym or need some extra help staying focused, try listening to some music that you like. You might be surprised by how much it helps.
D.J. Smith is the Founder of CiV Digital. He’s been in the digital space since gopher sites were actually a thing and writes regularly on digital brand care and strategy. A curator of beats, tones and playlists, he can often be found jamming to (or sharing) some of his favorite tunes.