The Impact of Music on the Nervous System
Sounds can either delight or irritate the nervous system, which in turn has an impact on how we feel, think and behave. Last Thursday a car parked in my street had the alarm going off every 5 minutes from 10am until they picked the car up after work. By the end of the day I was grumpy and frazzled. The constant blare of car horn had bored into my nervous system, setting me on edge (a sympathetic nervous system response). This unpleasant experience led me to search Google scholar for articles on the impact of music on the nervous system.
The Impact of Music on Anxiety and Depression
Heaps of research has been done on the impact of music on anxiety and depression:
A 2017 study by S Aalbers and colleagues found that music therapy reduces anxiety and depression.
In a 2014 review of 63 scientific studies, Fancourt and co. found that not only did listening to music decrease the blood pressure, levels of cortisol and stress in your body, but it had a GREATER EFFECT than anti-anxiety medication and relaxation techniques.
Let’s think about that for a minute. Listening to your choice of relaxing music is more effective than medication! All you have to do is listen… Pass me the earphones STAT!
How does music do this? Apparently listening to the music you love releases Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter that impacts our thinking, feeling and behaviour. See the research here…
But it’s not just about feeling good emotionally. The impact of sound on your nervous system impacts other systems in your body.
The Impact of Music on Your Body
- Music was found to have had an anti-inflammatory effect on the body (which is a risk for numerous diseases and conditions). See the research here..
- It had a beneficial effect on anxiety, blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, sleep and pain in people with Coronary Heart Disease. See the research here..
- And it had beneficial effects on anxiety, fatigue, pain and quality of life for people with cancer. See the research here..
So choose the sounds you listen to carefully….. Think about the impact of music on the nervous system.
- Feeling stressed or anxious? Put on your favorite music and see if it makes an impact.
- If you work in a stressful environment, why not use noise-cancelling earphones?
- What sound do you use as your alarm? A friend of mine listens to the sublime, silky sounds of “Samba da Bencao” by Bebel Gilberto. Imagine waking up to that instead of a beep. How chilled would the start of your day be?
If you would like to ask me what somatic psychotherapy is all about, I offer a FREE 15 minute discovery session by phone for new clients.