Feeling Down? Crank Up the Volume!
A Fascinating Way Music Affects Your Mood
How do you deal with a bad day?
Do you spend some time alone, meditating on your problems? Do you relieve stress at the local batting cages?
Well, according to a study by the University of Queensland, you may just want to turn the Metallica up to 11 and bang your head for a while. Sort of.
The study found that, contrary to previous evidence, loud, aggressive music like metal or punk can relieve anger and sadness, and help listeners calm down. It’s just one of the surprising ways music can influence your mood.
See also: For Music Lovers Only
Finding Your Center with Extreme Music
Of course, metal isn’t for everyone. Neither is punk, screamo, or any other types of so-called “extreme” music that the study surveyed.
And it likely won’t help much if you’re not inclined to that kind of listening already. For non-fans, extreme music can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety.
But for natural-born headbangers, the same kind of music can help process emotions and return you to your calm, rational self. “The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired,” said Queensland honors student Leah Sharman, who helped conduct research for the study along with Dr. Genevieve Dingle.
That last bit – the feeling of inspiration – is one of the most promising aspects of the study and can go a long way to helping us understand the way music affects how we work, play, and relax.
Why Does Music Make Us Feel Things?
Speaking of relaxing: have you ever woken up in the middle of the night anxious about things you can’t control? An embarrassing memory, or whether the package you shipped will get to its destination on time?
No matter what you do, you just can’t stop thinking that thought. Sort of like when a song gets stuck in your head.
And according to psychotherapist Julia Lehrman, that’s exactly how you can overcome those negative “ruminations.”
In an article published on PsychCentral, Lehrman shows us how music can help block out the various “radio signals” your brain deals with every day, and help you focus on something outside yourself.
“Much like meditation, putting on our favorite song or playlist can take our minds out of the vicious cycle of regret, worry, or fear, and help us to refocus our attention on the sound and rhythm of the song, even if just for a short while,” she writes. “Almost instantaneously, we have the ability to bring our minds away from the trap of its constant mental chatter, and into states of present moment awareness and enlivened being.”
At the end of the day, music is just one of many ways that you can help process the more complicated aspects of life. Whether you’re enjoying a little sun by the pool, at the office, or spending some time at home with the family, your music system plays a much more important role than you might have thought.
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