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How Does Music Affect Mental Health?

Updated: Apr 8

By Rebecca Hall

Overview: Music is the universal language that speaks to us in special ways. It moves us, soothes us, brings a smile to our faces, or a tear to our eyes. It’s so powerful that people have been studying the possible benefits of music in our lives – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

There is something about the song “Dancing Queen” by Abba, because whenever I hear the beginning distinctive piano slide, I will almost always smile, and feel the echo of the memory of driving with high school friends, singing it at the top of our lungs. I still love driving with the windows open, singing along to great music!

Music has always had a special place in my heart. From choir to singing with friends, to creating my own playlists for various activities, to going to concerts – it is something I am passionate about. I am usually listening to it or humming while working on something.

Does Music Impact Emotional Well-Being?

Recently I have been learning more about the connection between music and our emotional well-being. This makes sense, as music is considered a universal language and for so many people it makes work  seem lighter and easier. Remember, “Whistle while you work”? 

Researchers have been studying the connection between music and the benefits it has for us and our  brains. They’ve found that music can “fire up” many parts of the brain. This can promote our creativity,  reduce anxiety, lower our blood pressure, reduce pain, improve sleep quality, our moods, mental  alertness, and memory. Music causes our brain to release multiple neurochemicals that make us feel  good. Music is helpful for us, for both body and mind. 

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What is "Neural Nostalgia?"

Another interesting connection that has been made is regarding nostalgia, which has been found to be a  powerfully positive emotion that helps to buffer us whether we are feeling happy or going through  something difficult or experiencing troubling emotions.

Nostalgia comes from strong, positive memories  from our past. Scientists have found that there is such a thing as “neural nostalgia,” which refers to the  emotions that come up for us when we hear music we loved when we were between 12-22 years old. 

There’s a lot of science behind the findings about neural nostalgia – but mainly, the point is that music  from when we were young sticks with us in a way other music doesn’t. Not only that, but that music  does great things for our emotions. When we listen to the songs we loved when we were younger it  brings back some of the joy we experienced in the past. This is good for us emotionally as it brings up  many positive and warm feelings.  

What Are The Benefits of Singing and Humming?

There have also been studies done on the positive benefits of singing and humming. This is not  surprising as so many of us love to sing along with our favorite songs! Here are a few great side effects  of singing: 

• It releases endorphins which help us to feel energized and uplifted. 

• Singing has been shown to “rewire” our brains, helping us to have better emotional resilience  when we encounter difficulties in life. 

• It lowers our blood pressure, improves breathing, reduces stress, improves mood.

• It can actually boost our immune system by increasing circulation and antibodies.

• It can feel empowering or inspiring.  

• It helps with memory and increases our ability to concentrate. 

• It decreases the stress hormone cortisol – which helps to reduce worry and sadness. 

A client pointed out to me recently that they have been enjoying singing because when they are singing  they can’t worry about whatever is bothering them because they are concentrating on the lyrics of the  song. I love that and I have to agree! 

Humming has also been found to have strong benefits. Intentionally choosing to hum for a few minutes a few times a day is really good for you! Humming can help improve sinus health and breathing, and it calms the body.

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Can Music Regulate My Emotions?

Music can help us to regulate our emotions. Here are a few more positive benefits from music:

• It can revive us, giving us new energy – whether we listen or sing along. 

• It is entertaining – and can encourage or help us to maintain a positive mood.

• It can be a positive diversion – it can soothe us, calming us so that we can think about other  things. 

• It comforts us. 

• It helps us to release negative emotions – especially more upbeat music! 

• Sometimes we connect with the lyrics of a song which helps us to feel we are not alone with  how we’re feeling. 

I encourage you to take some time to discover or rediscover songs or music that is meaningful to you.  You can listen, sing along, dance your heart out, or even hum along! The music you choose can be  upbeat or slow, contemplative or fun, with or without words. 

Whether you are having a wonderful day, feeling down, sad, or lonely, or overwhelmed with swirling  thoughts – music is scientifically proven to help you to feel better. Which to me is very comforting – I  hope it is for you, too. 

I pray that for you, music will be a source of joy and healing, as it is daily for me.


“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves.” Elton John

“Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.” Robert Browning 

“He put a new song in my mouth…” Psalm 40:3 

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Auerbach

As a faith-based counselor serving the Atlanta area, it brings me immense joy to walk alongside individuals who are committed to finishing the race of life well. Regardless of where you find yourself on this journey, know that you are not alone. Your desire for healing is both valid and achievable.

I encourage you to think about the things that hold you back in life. What stops you from showing up as the person you want to be? What hinders you from experiencing your relationships in a fulfilling way? When did you start to feel this way?

Once again, it is never too late to heal. It is NEVER too late for you. And God would never give up on you, so don't give up on yourself!

In conclusion, remember this: Your journey toward healing is a testament to your resilience and the unwavering love of a higher power. Embrace it, embrace yourself, and know that the best is yet to come.

Begin Working With A Therapist in Marietta, GA

Please consider reaching out to a qualified therapist. Our team of caring therapists would be honored to offer support with in-person and online services from our Marietta, GA-based practice. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:

Other Services Offered at Remain Connected Counseling

Our team knows you may experience other issues in your life. This is why we are happy to offer a variety of services including teen therapyanxiety treatment, and EMDR therapy. In addition, we also offer life transitions therapy and depression counseling, and more all under a Christian counseling lens. By using online therapy, these services are available to anyone in Georgia. Learn more about our team of dedicated therapists and contact us for more information.

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