Have you ever felt stressed, angry, or upset, and then as soon as you heard a particular song, your woes began to melt away? Even if for just a few minutes, you suddenly felt better and maybe even happy? If you have and you love music as much as I do, you may be glad to know that it’s been proven to not only make you feel good, but benefit both your physical and mental health, along with a plethora of other wonderful things. Just like forcing yourself to smile when you’re down can actually trick your mind into feeling better, so can music. Like medicine, it can be extremely healing.

There is so much more happening than mere auditory processing while you are listening to music. It actually triggers activity in a part of your brain that releases dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical, and activates the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex, regions that help to process emotion and make abstract thinking possible. Music can lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), thereby decreasing anxiety and reducing your stress level. It can awaken ancient memories, improve the quality of sleep, and help you focus and concentrate. It also improves function in the body’s immune system and can even reduce the perceived intensity of pain. While it can calm your nerves at times, it can also increase your energy level at others, like during workouts, and even make you suddenly need to jump up and dance! Come on, you know that there are certain songs that will either instantly relax you or abruptly snap your rear end into gear!

There is no doubt that the right type of music can soothe the soul, improve your mood, or jolt you into action. Yes, there is horrible music out there, and to each their own, but generally speaking, music truly is amazing. Its power is unbelievable. Have you ever witnessed someone begin to cry while listening to a beautiful voice belting a beautiful song, or perhaps been brought to tears yourself?

So the next time you’re sad and need cheering up, or feel anxious and need to calm down, try some tunes. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. If it doesn’t work, simply change the station or turn the music off. Remember: for relaxation, choose songs with slow tempos, more predictable structures, and fewer key changes. And “happy” listening!