The first thing (ok second, after thinking about all the things I am grateful for and smiling) I do in the mornings, is turn on the music.
Then I dance my way to the coffee machine and then straight into the shower, where you would find me either humming or singing to my favorite song.
Mind you, I am neither a good singer nor a good dancer. But I don’t care. It makes me feel good, it energizes me for the day and it makes me smile. Besides, I am usually in the comfort of my home or hotel room when I do that. So, the only ones who will see it are me and my loved ones. The only ones that will hear it are, me, my loved ones and well... if I am in a hotel room, some strangers who can’ t see who is singing so badly (they may hear it, but they surely can’t see me dancing and singing in the shower). So, I might even make them smile or laugh about my “perfect” singing skills, which means I added to their morning as well (No worries I usually don’t sing loud enough to wake other people up when staying in a hotel room).
Once I get into the car, I turn on the music as well. If I am driving alone, I’ll just continue the singing or humming.
When I come back home after a long day, you guessed right, as soon as I enter my home, I turn on the music.
But why do I do that? Yes, I had already said, it seems to energize me, put a smile on my face and just make me feel good and I don’t seem to be the only one on whom music seems to have that effect. A 2013 study, for example, found that music helped put other people in a better mood and get in touch with their feelings as well.
So, the actual question would be: How and why does it have these positive effects on me (and a lot of other people out there)?
Our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that leads to increased feelings of happiness, excitement, and joy when we listen to music we like.
It also decreases levels of the hormone cortisol in your body, counteracting the effects of chronic stress.
So, we feel more relaxed, less stressed and happier at the same time.
The benefits of listening to the radio or a random playlist (well as it is your playlist you will know which songs are on the playlist, but if you set it to random it will at least take you a little by surprise to see which song comes first).
As mentioned earlier, when listening to music, our brain releases dopamine. Randomness in music has been linked to increases the release of dopamine even more. Predictability on a playlist can make songs you love seem mundane by reducing anticipation and create a rut. Having a perfect song randomly come on shuffle mode, radio, amazon music or Spotify will give you a dopamine rush and that lucky "Jackpot", I love that song, feeling as a reward.
Small advice when listening to music in the car
Usually, I like to time the music in my car a little. No matter if I am playing radio, or a random playlist, I try to time an uplifting song at the end of my car drive. (Sometimes I even just start it after parking the car). I usually like to choose a song such as: “It’s my life” by Bon Jovi. Here is the trick though. No matter if I listen to it once or twice in a row, the important part is that I turn it off before it finishes. That way, taking the previously mentioned song as an example, the phrase “It’s my life and it’s now or never” is usually still stuck in my mind for quite some time after getting out of the car. My brain seems to somehow want to finish the song for me. You could say, I purposely create my own "Earworm” and due to the, for me very uplifting and motivating lyrics of the song I choose, it serves as if I made sure my mind has a positive reminder, affirmation which keeps repeating in my mind consciously, but even more importantly subconsciously, lifting my spirits and energizing me.
Benefits of dancing to your favorite songs
Dancing is a certain type of exercise so, naturally, like any exercise, it will assist in strengthening your bones and muscles. Muscles become stretched, conditioned and toned while the heart rate increases, pumping blood at a faster rate.
Therefore, the more often you dance your way through your day, the more you will be increasing your strength, which then again, will lead to you having more energy the next time you give it a try.
A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that getting footloose on a regular basis is linked with a 76 percent reduction in dementia risk — about as much as playing board games or a musical instrument.
Another benefit of randomly dancing to your favorite songs is that you automatically are using a quite wide variety of moves, which means you are usually exercising without the wear and tear of repetitive motions.
Several studies have shown that your increased level of physical activity and exercise, in the long run, can help prevent illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as your bones become stronger.
Benefits of singing along to your favorite songs
“According to a research conducted at the University of Frankfurt, singing boosts the immune system. The study included testing professional choir members’ blood before and after an hour-long rehearsal singing Mozart’s “Requiem”. The researchers noticed that in most cases, the number of proteins in the immune system that function as antibodies, known as Immunoglobulin A, were significantly higher immediately after the rehearsal. The same increases were not observed after the choir members passively listened to music.”
As Professor Graham Welch said: “Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its normally positive effect in reducing stress levels through the action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being. Psychological benefits are also evident when people sing together as well as alone because of the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavor."
Or as Helen Astrid says: "It’s a great way to keep in shape because you are exercising your lungs and heart. Not only that, your body produces ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins, which rush around your body when you sing. It’s exactly the same when you eat a bar of chocolate. The good news with singing is that you don’t gain any calories!"
A quite unknown benefit of simply listening to music
“The movie Alive Inside chronicles how music can assist in regaining parts of memory and improve the brain health and quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients. One of the caretakers in Henry’s nursing home interviews his family to find out the type of music Henry used to enjoy listening to before Alzheimer’s affected him. By creating playlists incorporating music specifically for Henry, the caretaker helps Henry reconnect with the world around him and brighten his mood. His eyes open, he is aware, and he is able to communicate. He was reconnected to his life from the music- his music.”
A 2013 study from Petr Janata at the University of California, Davis found that there is a part of the brain that “associates music and memories when we experience emotionally salient episodic memories that are triggered by familiar songs from our personal past.” In other words, our own familiar music can reconnect people with deep, meaningful memories from their past, like it did in Henry’s case.
Listening to music has a lot of advantages — so many, as a matter of fact, that music is being utilized therapeutically in a fresh branch of complementary medicine known as music therapy. That’s part of why listening to music makes an excellent mindfulness exercise. You are able to play soothing new-age music, classical music, or a different type of slow-tempo music to feel calming effects and make it an exercise by truly centering on the sound and vibration of every note, the feelings that the music brings up inside you and additional sensations that are happening "right now" as you listen.
Different types of music have slightly different benefits
“The effect of different types of music on mood will largely depend on people's individual preference and experience,” says Bridget O'Connell, head of information at the mental health charity Mind.
There are some basic rules though, Dr. Williamson admits. “For a general rule, if you want to relax you should choose songs with a slower tempo, less key changes, and more predictable structure.”
“Studies have linked classical music to increase learning capabilities, lowered blood pressure, pain management and stress reduction. One reason for this is that music affects our autonomic nervous system. This is the section of the nervous system that controls those things that just happen in our body without us even thinking about them – your heart beating or your brain working for example. This system will respond to the music without you even focusing on it.
Another study that showed that listening to classical music seems to increase your concentration is this one.
Classical music can help reduce pain and anxiety. Researchers at Duke Cancer Institute found that wearing noise-canceling headphones and playing classical music reduced the pain and anxiety of a biopsy.”
Upbeat music/ Instrumental music
“Research suggests that background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. Specifically, one study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.
So the next time you are working on a task, consider turning on a little music in the background if you are looking for a boost in your mental performance. Consider choosing instrumental tracks rather than those with complex lyrics, which might end up being more distracting.”
One of the most surprising psychological benefits of music is that it might be a helpful weight loss tool. If you are trying to lose weight, listening to mellow music and dimming the lights might help you achieve your goals a little quicker.
Downtempo music i.e. Jazz for example
Downtempo music (around 60 beats per minute in this case) can cause the brain to synch up with the beat and create alpha brain waves. These waves are often present when we're awake but relaxed. Listening to smooth jazz, especially combined with nature sounds like waterfalls or thunder, can be extremely soothing.
Fast-paced music (Rock or Pop-music for example)
There is a good reason why you find it easier to exercise while you listen to music - researchers have found that listening to fast-paced music motivates people to work out harder.
A study showed that if you listen to rock or pop-music while being treadmill-walking can improve endurance and possibly enhance physical performance. The reason behind this seems to be the fact that the hits seem to actually distract you while you're working, allowing you to go the extra mile.
Another study found that cyclists who listened to upbeat music, not only worked harder automatically due to being distracted but even actively made a conscious choice to work harder, since they were more motivated with the music playing than without.
A study conducted by the Humboldt State University determined people who identified as heavy metal fans in their youth grew up to have a strong sense of identity, a knack for community development, and were less likely to live with regrets.
A lot of songs from this genre focus on overcoming obstacles. According to researchers at Cambridge University, this may be a helpful tool for people experiencing depression or other mental health issues. These positive visual images can help people envision the mental place they'd like to be and allow them to facilitate progress toward that goal. Dr. Akeem Sule and Dr. Becky Inkster even co-founded the HIP HOP PSYCH initiative, which aims to tackle mental health issues through hip-hop.
If you are considering to increase your music library after discovering the different benefits of different kinds of music, you may be considering to sing up for amazon music (it has a 30 day free trial, where you could just check it out first to see if you would love it as much as I do).
Listening to certain Brainwaves as a musical background
Brainwaves are a communication medium of neurons in our brain or more in detail, they are electrical pulses that neurons fire to one another. This process changes in response to our actions and emotions. There are 5 main types of brainwave frequencies: Gamma brainwaves, Beta brainwaves, Alpha brainwaves, Theta brainwaves, and Delta Brainwaves. Let’s have a look at the different situations and positive effects they are supposed to have when listening to them.
Listening to certain brainwaves is not the same as listening to “normal” music, it’s probably not the type of tones you want to dance or sing to, but they can be very helpful when trying to finish certain tasks as explained more in detail below. Therefore, we still wanted to introduce them to you in this music related blog. Same as music, we believe, these brainwaves can make your life easier and consequently make you happier.
Gamma brainwaves have a frequency of 27 – 100 Hz. They are usually associated with helping or having the benefits of heightened perception, attention, learning and problem-solving tasks. Research has indicated at moments when bursts of precognition or high-level information processing occur, your brainwaves briefly reach the Gamma state. They are linked to improving memory and helping to prevent Alzheimer. Some examples of Gamma brainwaves you may want to try listening to are these ones.
These brainwaves have a frequency of 13-32 Hz. Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when our attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. They are supposed to assist with being alert, normal alert consciousness and active thinking. Generally, we use Beta frequencies for high-level learning and when in the fight or flight response mode. Individuals lacking beta wave activity can experience depression and ADHD. Some examples of Beta brainwaves you may want to try listening to the next time you have to study for a test are: example 1, example 2
Alpha brainwaves have a frequency of 8-13 Hz Alpha waves are also known as ‘the power of now: being here, in the present. Alpha is the resting state for the brain and is therefore acknowledged for having a physically and mentally relaxing effect. Which is why, Alpha waves can be a great help for focusing on work, studying, being creative and artistic. A few examples of Alpha brainwave recordings would be this one and this one.
Interestingly, the moment that an individual closes their eyes, the brain begins to produce more alpha waves. This can be tied to the change in light exposure to the brain through the eyes, as well as the evidence for why humans sleep when the sun goes down.
These brainwaves have a frequency of 8 -13 Hz Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in the deep meditation. They are mainly used to support creativity, insight, dreams and to reduce consciousness (as in helping you to meditate for example). They help us shut off our senses from outside influences and focus on what is going on inside of us. Which is why these brainwaves are often used in hypnosis and are present during REM Sleep (Theta is the first stage of the phase when we dream).
If you would like to try and see the effect Theta brainwaves/ beats can have on you, play one of these examples next time you are lying down in bed, ready to sleep, or when you want assistance with meditating: example 1, example 2
Another benefit Theta brainwaves are supposed to diffuse negative energies if you are planning on a meditation that helps you clearing away some negativity try this one or to assist with healing purposes try this one
Delta brainwaves have a frequency of 0.5-4 Hz and help to fall asleep more easily and sleeping better.
Essentially, the body is taking advantage of this low activity in order to reset and prepare for the coming day, healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state. Not experiencing enough time in a sleep state dominated by delta waves accounts for feeling tired the following day or days. We get delta waves when we are in a deep, non-dreaming sleep. Examples are: example 1, example 2
If you are looking for a great package where you can try a meditation for each of these four: alpha, theta, gamma and delta brainwaves, separately, I recommend you to check out Pure Binaural Beats 2. I personally think is a very nice and affordable way to get 4 great meditations to try out and experience the benefits of binaural beats for yourself.
Again, no matter if you are listening to music or if you are listening to brainwaves, the important part is that you are listening to beats which enrich your life. Which make your life more beautiful, no matter if that is due to the fact that it is making you relax easier, letting you sleep better, concentrate more easily, dance or sing through your day or even all of these.
The point is for you to enjoy your life to the fullest and I believe music, as well as brainwaves, are a huge help in that, at least they are for me and a lot of people I know.
Music is supposed to put a smile on your face and let you be in love with life.As I like to say: Why walk through life if I can dance instead!?