Listening to music is one of our favorite pastimes, but its benefits go far beyond entertainment. The idea that songs can impact our emotions and behaviors is not surprising to anyone who loves music, and the psychological influences of music can be pervasive and powerful. Music therapy is used more frequently to enhance emotional health and help medical patients cope with pain and anxiety. In fact, studies have indicated that music improves every aspect of our health – providing physical energy, relaxing the mind, and even managing pain.

Here are eight ways that music makes us healthier – mind, body, and soul.

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  1. Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Although most of us don’t need an expert to tell us this, meditative or relaxing music has been proven to reduce anxiety. A 2013 study exposed study participants to a stressor, then allowed some of them to listen to soothing music (while others were exposed to silence.) Those who listened to music showed a significant reduction in their stress levels.
  2.  Improve Cognitive Ability: Research has indicated that playing music in the background while completing a task can help boost memory and cognitive function. Choose music based on the job to be completed, as instrumental music is generally better for activities that need concentration and focus.
  3. Help with Weight Loss: One of the more surprising benefits of music is linked to weight loss. A study showed that when people ate out, those who dined at low-lit restaurants with soft music consumed 18% less food than those at bright, loud establishments. This is likely due to a slower pace of eating, which can help us to realize we are full more effectively. Since this works for restaurants, why not try this out at home? Dim the lights, put on some soft music, and slow down the pace of your eating and see if it helps your waistline.
  4. Enhance Memory Function: Research has shown that students who listen to music while studying experience better memory function – with a caveat. Those who have no musical training can typically listen to simple, upbeat music and enjoy improved memory function. Students that are proficient in musical arts may become distracted by dissecting the music as they listen to it, impairing their ability to focus.
  5. Manage Chronic Pain: Studies have shown that when fibromyalgia patients listened to musical arrangements one hour per day, they experienced a significant improvement in pain levels. A 2015 study also found that patients who listened to music pre-surgery experienced less pain after the surgery.
  6. Decrease Insomnia: Studies have shown that people who listened to music while falling asleep had better quality and length of sleep than those who either didn’t listen to anything or fell asleep listening to the TV or an audiobook. Given how essential sleep is to mental and physical health, listening to soft, relaxing songs while dozing off can provide significant benefits.
  7. Keep You Motivated: Music improves motivation, as many workout fanatics can attest to. When researchers slowed the music down, activity slightly decreased. When they sped the music up, the effort increased. Exercise is fantastic for mental and physical health, and music helps to keep you on your workout regimen.
  8. Elevate Your Mood: Music boosts mood and enhances happiness and is often utilized to help those with depression to feel better. Try listening to your favorite music every day for two weeks, intending to improve your mood and inject happiness in your life- and see what happens!

If you are struggling with mental health issues, music may be an excellent way to positively impact your daily life, as music improves many aspects of life. If you need a professional to speak with, call Denise Schonwald.

Denise is a nationally certified mental health counselor and coach located in Sarasota.

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