If you’re looking for an easy way to get rid of the daily life, turn on the music. Studies have shown that music can improve your mood and help to fight depression. It can also improve blood flow and lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol and also ease the pain. Even listening to music before an operation can help post-surgery outcomes.
“Both meditation and music listening are potentially powerful tools for improving overall health and well-being,” Innes says.
“Silence can be better than random listening,” says Joanne Loewy, an associate professor and director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York. “Some of our data show that putting on any old music can actually induce a stressful response.”
“These were people who normally listened to Swedish speed metal, so to them AC/DC was soothing,” he further says. “There’s no one piece of music that will do the same thing for everyone.”
There’s also no single “music centre” in the brain, he says. “One thing people find surprising is that music activates nearly every region of brain we’ve mapped so far.”
“Music therapy starts with the idea that, as therapists, we’re collaborating with a person who’s looking to help themselves to feel more complete or optimistic—or to discover parts of themselves they aren’t aware of—using music,” says Alan Turry, managing director of the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University.
“Music is a way to bypass our rational side and to get in touch with the emotional life we often keep hidden,” Turry says. “If people are having trouble, there’s usually a way that music can help.”