It’s no surprise that listening to music can support mental health, overall mood, and emotional wellness.  In fact, we’ve covered this connection on this site, including how to create a strategy to boost mental health.  But why is it that this works so well, and how is it that it can begin to provide benefits as quickly as it does?

How Does Listening to Music Benefit You So Fast?

Feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness and other unpleasant emotions can cause us to take on behaviors that are less than ideal for our overall wellbeing. We can withdraw from others, lash out, binge on comfort foods, drink too much alcohol, skip workouts and other forms of physical activity, and so on.  The same can be said when we’re going through a period of heightened stress, or when high stress has become chronic.

That said, listening to music, has been shown to nearly immediately reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and loneliness by boosting a sense of connection and communication. Even when you are listening to it alone, it still supports a feeling of being with another person, though certainly in a different way from being in the room and conversing with someone else.

For many people, the rise in the sense of communication from listening to music also measurably reduces cortisol levels.  It’s an easy way to feel connected with others without the risk of judgment, having to explain yourself, or even to have to behave in a happy or friendly way that you’re just not feeling.  Instead, you can align with the voice, instrument or even just the rhythm of the song and allow your mood to ease.

Boost the Benefit by Moving to the Beat

While just listening to music can have a fast benefit, if you want to pick things up even more, move to the beat. This can mean nodding your head, tapping your foot, swaying in your chair, or it could mean that you get up and dance with your whole body.  By moving to the song, you’ll connect with it even more. 

If you’re already enjoying the benefit of listening to music, you’ll find that this added alignment and communication with something another person has created will only help you to feel better. Moreover, if you’re moving enough to get your heart rate to pick up, then you’ll also enjoy the substantial advantages that physical activity has for your mental health. This can offer a double whammy in overcoming symptoms of stress and anxiety, among other struggles.