Are you the kind of person who routinely experiences a shiver down your spine when the opening chords of your favourite love song begin to play? Do you feel that adrenaline rush when that dance number from your college days comes on?
Some of us feel goosebumps on our arms and the back of our neck when spiritual music gently envelops us. Others have been known to feel calm and centred when peaceful, classical music plays. And nearly every one of us experiences a surge of excitement right before the beat drops in that catchy dance hit! No matter what your go-to genre or song is, when the right combination of chords, tones, and beats come together, most people feel some form of emotional response.
Why do our brains love music?
is an undeniable link between music and emotions, and the way in which our body
signals that connection being made. Goosebumps, for example, are a bodily
reaction to a sensation. They are a part of the body’s fight-or-flight reaction
to the stimulus. Research shows that about 50% of all people will present this
reaction, which comes from a rush of the neurotransmitter dopamine, through the
body. However, recent studies also show that these reactions—called frissons in
French and informally referred to as “skin orgasms” in English—come
from stimulation of a very ancient neurological pathway that is:
1. otherwise activated by addiction, motivation, exercise, or sex, and
2. known to peak dopamine levels as a predictive response to the crescendo moment in a piece of music.
Brains and bodies that are more prone to experiencing these reactions are actually more attuned to intense emotional reactions to music. These people may also have higher-than-normal active imaginations, tend to be more reflective than usual, are in touch with their emotions, and also have an innate love for nature and aesthetics.
We already know some of the wonderful benefits of listening to music, which goes to show that there are very good reasons our brains and bodies are wired to respond to music positively. Some people use upbeat music to motivate them while they work out. Others listen to peaceful instrumental music as a way to unwind at the end of a hectic day. Romantic music can set the mood for a wonderful evening with your significant other. Music, and our brain’s capacity to perceive it, can also offer social-emotional connections when we share the experience of a spectacular song on our favourite speakers, or go to a concert with friends.
Sing away stress
In the stress-filled world we live in, listening to music that appeals to our individual selves is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to decompress. The best thing about listening to music today is the sheer ease of access due to technology. A listener can download tunes on the go anywhere and at any time. A stressful drive home from work can be immediately lightened by a few quick clicks. The art and technology of sound is critical for a good listening experience.
An even better way to deal with stress is to join in the fun, and sing along loudly with your favourite songs. The best part of this method of decompressing is that it can be done anywhere. The first thing I did when I discovered my love for singing out loud was to download a number of karaoke tracks on my phone. Then, I placed a BlueTooth speaker in my shower so I could start my day with some high energy tracks. Often, I drive to work myself, and the car is another great place to put on your favourite songs and sing along with them without disturbing anyone.
Singing is great exercise for your lungs, especially singing loudly. It provides immense emotional benefits, as it has been shown to increase the levels of endorphins (hormones that make you feel happy), as well as reduce the levels of cortisol (hormones that are released when your body is stressed). Finally, singing can be a great social activity to do with friends, either at karaoke bars or at home.
In today’s world, karaoke couldn’t be easier. So try this once you’re done reading this article:
- Find a quiet spot
- Open your music app on your laptop or phone
- Search for “Your favourite song” + karaoke
- Hit play
- Sing out loud
Breathe in music. Breathe out stress. And make it work faster for you by singing out loud.