Music Fosters Brain Health and Creative Expression

Music Fosters Brain Health and Creative Expression

 “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato

Attribution to Kimberly RecorWithin the realm of music lies a certain kind of magic. It has the ability to transport you into another time, to relive beautiful moments from the past, to lift your spirits, and, most importantly, it allows you to connect to something greater than yourself.

In the second half of life, cognitive engagement and brain health become a vital part of your well-being. Music has been proven to strengthen brain activity, and studies are showing that it may help ward off dementia. If you let it, music can bring a positive energy force into your life. There are also many ways that enjoying music can become part of enhancing your social connections.

Below are ten ways that music can help improve your way of life.

1. Strengthen Your Memory
The medial pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain that sits just behind your forehead, uses music to trigger powerful memories. A recent study using brain scans showed that music linked to a strong memory created an extraordinary amount of activity in the pre-frontal cortex. Since the front part of the brain is the part that endures, this could explain why Alzheimer patients will often remember music from their past, even when all other memories have disappeared.

2. Awaken Your Creative Spirit
An upbeat song is great for a motivated work out, but when you feel like you’re in a creative rut, loud music may not be all that helpful. According to a study done by the Journal of Consumer Research, moderate ambient noise is best for creative endeavors. High noise levels can be overwhelming, and can keep us from processing information efficiently. However, if you keep noise at a moderate level it makes your brain work a little harder, forcing it to approach things in a more creative way.

3. Lull Yourself to Sleep
Listening to soothing music can help reduce sleep-interfering factors such as anxiety and stress, while helping lower heart and respiratory rates. A calming lullaby before your bedtime can help shorten the time it takes for you to fall asleep, as well as lengthening and deepening your actual sleep time. So next time you feel restless before bedtime, put on some soft, gentle music, do some breathing exercises, and see if you can chase those nagging thoughts away.

4. Beat the Blues
Prozac may no longer be your only option to treating depression. Many new studies detail the success rate of musical therapy regarding overcoming depression, whether it be listening to music, making music or using music in conjunction with therapy to deal with the issues at hand.

5. Get Moving
If you’ve ever exercised in silence, you know that it can be excruciating. Listening to music can make any workout better, because it competes for our brain’s attention. This allows us to push through signs of fatigue and helps us use our energy more efficiently. According to this study, syncing your body’s rhythm with a steady musical beat seems to increase stamina and metabolic regulation. Another study has also shown that a music-based, multi-task exercise program can lead to better balance and a reduction in falling.

6. Improve Productivity
According to a recent study, a group of workers who listened to music finished their tasks quicker and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t. Try listening to music in 15 minute intervals, preferably music without lyrics, to regain your concentration and focus.

7. Stay Healthy
Listening to just 30 minutes of music a day can lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and ease pain. Dimming the lights and putting on soft music may help you slow down while eating, and keep you mindful of how much food you are consuming.

8. Invoke The Spirit
Whether your religious, spiritual, or agnostic, there is no denying that music holds a special power. Try singing your prayers or affirmations, or listen to some soft music next time you’re meditating to help raise your vibration.

9. Socialize Through Music
What a better way to bond than over a shared love of music. Whether it be going to a community performance, singing in church, watching a singer on TV, or listening to a talented performer on the street, why not take the opportunity to make a new friend or two.

10. Set the Mood for Contemplation
Many people use music to enter a meditative state. The right kind of music lets you relax, focus and clear your mind. Take 10 minutes to play soft music and mediate. Once you’ve finished, take 5 to 10 minutes and just contemplate quietly about whatever comes to mind.

Author: Kimberly Recor, staff writer at Designing Brighter Tomorrows

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