How Music Can Change the Way You Feel

How music can change the way you feel is something felt not only emotionally, but physically as well, and has long been a subject of debate. This article includes the numerous ways that music can actually affect the way we feel mentally and physically?

Reference links to studies have been added at the bottom of the article.

1. Music can be used as a treatment tool to improve your mood

Music can change the way you feel and has been proven to be an effective treatment for mood regulation. Studies have been done on mood regulation using music of pre-selected happy playlists and sad playlists for four weeks, and while most participants noted changes in their mood, almost all noticed that they started listening to the music with intent and focused on the result they desired from it. For example, those listening to happy music expected to feel happy and showed positive results, and the same was true of those listening to sad music focusing on being sad.

2. Music sounds better when shared with people who enjoy it too

It is no surprise that humans love music, but it may come as a surprise that humans tend to enjoy music more when they are surrounded by people who also enjoy the music. Concerts and festivals bring out new levels of enjoyment where hundreds, sometimes thousands, gather to enjoy music together, and that feeling is amplified by adding the element of physical movement, which releases separate chemicals that boost happiness.

3. Music can make you feel happy

Many people want mood improvements without doing anything, such as exercising or doing tasks that get the brain to reward you with happy chemicals. The good news is it’s possible by listening to music. At some point, everyone has been told, “Think happy thoughts”, but when it comes to being able to boost your own mood using music, that’s really all it is. Listening to happy or upbeat music while focusing on being happy or by intentionally thinking happy thoughts can make a lot of difference. Doing so regularly has shown positive feelings and the feelings last longer as you practice over time. Intention while listening to certain music really can make you feel happier.

4. Music can be used as a treatment tool to reduce pain and anxiety after surgeries

Music impacts many parts of the brain, including centers processing sensory information and pain. More than 70 studies have been conducted on individuals who underwent surgery that didn’t affect the head, neck, or nervous system. A random selection of the participants, anywhere from 20 to over 450 patients, were allowed to listen to music before going into surgery and during their in-hospital recovery period. The patients allowed to listen to music saw a decrease in anxiety and a decrease in pain post-op, even though it did not affect the recovery time.

5. Music may be subconsciously influencing your shopping habits

A field study was done in a supermarket using nothing more than a radio and a wine display to see the correlation between shopping habits and music. For two weeks, the radio alternated between French and German music. The wine display had a selection of French and German wines. The days German music was played, customers bought German wines, and on the days French music was played, French wines outsold German wines. When directly asked about why they chose their specific wine, customers were unaware of the subconscious influence music had  on them. 

Next time a holiday comes around, listen to the shift in music in the stores you shop at and see if you notice yourself purchasing something that otherwise wouldn’t have been on your shopping list.

6. Music can change the way you perceive time

Music can be a great way to keep track of time, but it can also trick our brains into thinking it’s been longer or shorter than in reality. Studies show music with a faster tempo or music we enjoy can warp our sense of time and make it seem like time passed by quicker than it did. The opposite is also true; when listening to music you dislike, it seems to drag on forever. Music with a slow tempo is perceived to last longer. Offices and companies utilize this to their advantage, playing upbeat music in waiting rooms or while customers are on hold to make them feel as though they haven’t been waiting long. It also makes the wait pleasant and enjoyable by providing stimulus and keeping the mind occupied.

7. Music can improve your work performance

It should come as no surprise just how music can change the way you feel when doing menial tasks. Music can transform the most boring and tedious chores into fun and enjoyment. The beat and the lyrics give your brain extra sensory stimulus during tedious tasks which causes an increase in the production of serotonin and endorphins. This in turn provides a mental boost and can give you that extra push to get things done when you’re feeling bored or burnt out.

8. Music can help you sleep better

At least 27% of the population has sleep issues, and recent studies have shown there really is a connection between listening to music and actually falling asleep. Music is no cure for insomnia but it can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Humans have used lullabies for centuries, and now it has been proven that listening to instrumental, slow, or calming music can help your body associate it with bedtime.

9. Music can motivate you to do more

In a study testing how music can change the way you feel in terms of pushing yourself and doing more, participants were given playlists of music to exercise with. There were three options: the regular playlist, the playlist sped up by 10%, and the playlist slowed down by 10%. The participants didn’t know which one they were choosing, but results showed the faster the tempo, the more distance was covered during exercise. Participants also pushed themselves to go faster to keep up with the tempo.  The opposite was true when the tempo was slowed down, causing participants to do less physically.

10. Negative Emotions and Actions

How music and lyrics affect people has long been debated when it comes to concerns over violent or graphic lyrics. Several studies have been done that indicate that lyrics, especially violent ones, do have an impact on how people internalize their thoughts and feelings and translate them into actions. However, those with more aggressive feelings, according to studies, already showed signs of hostility. When graphic videos were added to the mix, changes were more drastic and noticeable, influencing behavior and feelings in a negative way.

11. Music can shape your identity and help you find your place in life

Discovering your own taste in music is a large part of growing up. You experiment with different genres when young and this allows you to find things you resonate and identify with. It can also help you connect with people who share similar ideals. It can help you find things you believe in and express emotions you can’t properly put into words on your own. Music is shared by cultures all over the world and has been a way to record history for countless generations. This music gives many people and cultures a specific aspect of their identity and helps them know who they are and where they come from. Because music is such a large part of every culture, people migrating to new cultures use their own music for comfort, but also learn and lean into the new culture’s music to find how they fit into the area they now find themselves in. It is also an easier way of practicing a new language 

Music is dynamic and it can have such a diverse range of impacts on us that we don’t even realize it is happening, both mentally and physically. It can change your mood, for better or for worse, and can actually have an impact on the body’s autonomic nervous system. How music can change the way you feel is no longer a question, but is simply a matter of how much or how little it can do and how we can tap this to our advantage!