In the US alone, mental illness affects 47.6 million, or about one in five adults. Of these individuals, around 11.4 million suffer from a serious mental illness.
Fortunately, mental illnesses are treatable with medication and non-drug therapies. In fact, the latter can help improve your mental health, whether you have a diagnosed illness or not.
One such method that doesn't involve medication is music therapy. Creating or listening to music can help keep your moods and emotions in check. These activities can even boost your happiness and overall feelings of well-being.
Ready to learn how music can do all these and more? Then let's dive right into it.
1. Music Can Help Make You Feel Happier
Studies have long since found a link between upbeat music and improved moods. Upbeat music, after all, has a faster tempo characterized by cheerful beats. This quick rhythm triggers increased breathing, which signals happiness.
Moreover, upbeat music can make it easier to recall happy memories. In this way, happy music can make you feel more positive. The more positive your emotions are, the easier it is to feel happier.
In another study, participants who listened to upbeat music also reported feeling happier. What's more, these improve moods occurred within two weeks of listening to this type of music.
Granted, these effects exhibited on those who actively wanted to improve their moods. Still, the fact that they felt happier means that listening to music does help.
2. Music Can Help Minimize Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety is a natural reaction of the body to stress. It can be in the form of fear, apprehension, or worries of what's to come. In most cases, these are normal emotions that can help us make better decisions.
However, many people -- as many as 40 million in the US -- have excessive anxious feelings. These people suffer from anxiety disorders, which are extreme feelings of anxiety. These feelings are also long-lasting, staying with a person for at least six months.
Handling anxiety, fortunately, can be easier through the help of music for therapy. One study found that people who listened to music had a reduction in their anxiety symptoms. What's more, the researchers confirmed that music helped ease pain symptoms.
3. Music Can Help Melt Away Stress
Like anxiety, stress is a normal bodily reaction to certain events and conditions. In "healthy" levels, stress helps prepare the body to respond and react appropriately. For instance, "positive" stress can help you detect danger and help you react in a way that avoids the threat.
Unfortunately, high levels of stress can be just as unhealthy. It can cause negative emotions and put you at a higher risk of mental illnesses. It can also interfere with your way of thinking and make you lose focus.
If upbeat music quickens breathing, classical music has a more relaxing, stress-relieving effect. Its slow and soft tempo can help melt away stress and soothe your mind. Moreover, these effects lead to the added benefit of relaxing tense muscles.
4. Music Can Help Sharpen Focus and Concentration
Many studies, like this one, prove that listening to music can help boost mental function. The effects are even more profound in people who listen to music that they enjoy. This is why many experts recommend listening to music as a study aid.
These effects appear to be even greater in people who have taken music lessons.
According to experts, musical training creates more neural connections in the brain. Moreover, these "extra" connections appear to last for a lifetime. This may help explain how music lessons can help prevent cognitive decline in an aging brain.
Music can also help you focus better by making you less susceptible to distractions. Think about it. If you listen to or make music that you enjoy, you're engrossed in what you're doing.
In this way, music becomes the center of your attention. It helps you focus only on one thing and drown out the rest. As such, music can train your mind to achieve a "concentrated state" faster than if you don't listen to music.
5. Music Can Lull Your Brain (and Body) To Sleep
People who have a mental disorder are more likely to suffer from sleep problems. In fact, sleep problems are present in about 50% to 80% of psychiatric patients.
Sleep, after all, shares close ties with a person's psychological and mental state. In people with anxiety disorders, this can be due to overwhelming worries or concerns. Depressed individuals may also feel that they're drowning in negative emotions.
Listening to music can help get these negative emotions or thoughts under control. Calming music, for instance, can bring the mind to a more relaxed state. The more relaxed the brain is, the easier it may be for a person to fall asleep.
6. Music Can Help Make You Feel Motivated
Scientists also confirm the energizing and motivating effects of music. These effects come from music's ability to interact with the sympathetic nervous system. This then results in an accelerated heart rate and the widening of the airways.
If you're lacking in energy or motivation, try playing some of your favorite tunes. You'll soon see a huge difference in how you feel. You may even be energetic enough to sing at the top of your lungs.
Improve Your Mental Health by Immersing Yourself in Music
There's no doubt about it: music can indeed help improve your mental health. Of course, this still depends on the type of music you choose to listen to. If you need something quick to lift your spirits, go with upbeat music, but if you need sleep, go with relaxing music.
Ready for more life and health pro tips like this to feel and live better? Then make sure you head over to the Lifestyle section. We've got more helpful guides waiting for you there.