If you instantly feel your mood lift when you switch on your iPod for your morning commute, it’s not a coincidence.
A new study from Montreal’s McGill University shows that music not only has the ability to boost your mood, it can also reduce anxiety (sometimes more successfully than prescription drugs) and boost the immune system.
The researchers reviewed over 400 published research papers claiming that music influences health, and found that ‘the evidence for the beneficial effects of music on reward, motivation, pleasure, stress, arousal, immunity, and social affiliation is mounting.’
Researchers found that music can provide the following health benefits:
‘Music listening reportedly lowers requirements for opiate drugs in postoperative pain.’
Reduces stress and anxiety
‘Listening to ‘relaxing music’ has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in healthy subjects.’
In one study, patients were randomly assigned to receive either anti-anxiety drugs or music therapy before surgery. Researchers found that patients’ anxiety was ‘reduced significantly more by the music than by the drug.’
Improve immune function
‘Recreational music-making has been proposed as a cost-effective means of improving mood and reducing stress among the elderly,’ the study’s authors wrote. This is important for immune function because ‘stress and aging have detrimental effects on immune system responses.’
Create social bonds
‘An emerging body of evidence indicates that social factors play an important role in human health outcomes.’ In turn, ‘music plays an important role in creating social bonds.’
The study’s authors say more research on music therapy is needed, but listening to tunes as a lifestyle choice can help reduce stress, protect against disease, and manage pain.
Do you use music to help with stress or anxiety? How often do you listen to music? What’s your favourite song for managing stress?
-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor