Music is a big part of our lives, isn`t it? Who hasn`t played some soothing classical pieces after a long day at work or romantic ballads to accompany a candle-lit dinner for two? Did you know that the music we listen to affects how we feel, think and act every day of our lives? It is capable of lifting the blues, boosting your energy, helping you unwind and everything in between.
You might even use your favourite album to get you in the mood for housekeeping. Suddenly, even dusting might seem like fun. But how does some bluesy rock motivate you to clean your house? For starters, any kind of fast-paced, rhythmic music increases our blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates, which primes our body for action. At the same time, it triggers beta waves in the brain that increase a person`s ability to respond and act quickly. These impulses continue down the spinal cord, literally electrifying the body. The quicker the impulses travel to the muscles, the more you`ll want to move which is why up-tempo tunes spark an urge to dance or, ......er, dust, vacuum and scrub.
Can any of this actually make you feel happy? Yes! Like exercise, music has been found to create endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. To give yourself a lift, try listening to your favourite tunes or songs with great rhythm and beat. It stimulates your body and their happy lyrics reinforce the uplifting tone.
Sometimes, instead of playing upbeat songs to feel better, you could do just the opposite when you`re feeling blue. Play some Sinatra or anything that will help you wallow in your misery... even cry a little! It sometimes feels good to embrace the sadness. Research has found that people enjoyed listening to sad, slow songs more than upbeat, happy songs even if it made them feel depressed. As long as people gave the music a high aesthetic rating, it was perceived as pleasurable despite the sad content. And if you`re already feeling sad, the music can serve as solace and diminish feelings of isolation because it`s expressing the same emotions you`re feeling.
Songs are effective for relaxation therapy only if the listener likes them. Typically, relaxation CDs contain slow, soft tunes with simple, predictable patterns, since they can lower blood pressure and muscle tension. A human heart usually beats 70 to 80 times a minute, so it seems logical that slower songs, Bach`s "Air on the G String," for example, which clocks in at about 50 beats per minute can help relax the body. But somehow, pre-categorising music doesn`t always work. Even if the songs are played at a slow tempo, if you don`t like easy-listening music for example, it won`t relax you - it will annoy you instead. To be effective, the melodies must resonate with the listener.