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Neal O'Farrell

Music Is For The Mind, Not Just For The Ears

We can never underestimate the incredible power of music, not just the therapeutic power but the brain health and brain building power. The brain loves music, especially certain beats and frequencies. Listening to music can impact brain health in so many ways. It can generate, bring back memories that make us happy. Bring us to places and faces that make us happy.

Music can take us away from stressors around us, give us a break from them. Listening to music while walking in a busy street and shut out some of the other stressors caused by things like ambient background noise, construction, traffic and so on.

The more complex the music we’re listening to, the better for that brain. Listening to an orchestra, for example, is far greater for brain health and strength than listening to a solo instrument. That’s because listening to complex music, lots of instruments, notes, beats and rhythms, harmonies and so on, builds and strengthens the brain because it makes the brain work harder in order to process all those different sounds and beats.

And a type of music or sound known as Binaural Beats, is believed to help with everything from stress and anxiety to focus and sleep.

Music can even make you think a little bit harder, maybe you’re trying to remember the lyrics, the melody, that all gets brain cells growing too.

Ever increased the rate of your exercise, longer strides, running faster, cycling harder, when the beat of the music increases? Every time you do that, and the brain will often automatically try to do it for you, the more you increase all those benefits.

You might find yourself motivated to keep that pace up for the duration of the track. Which often means you’re exercising at a higher rate than normal for a longer period of time. That again gives you a rush of endorphins, dopamine, and the motivation, the craving to do even more.

Listening to music has also been shown to have an impact on the autonomous nervous system, the part responsible for managing stress. And yet other studies have shown that the brain loves certain rhythms, and especially repetitive rhythms.

Learning how to play a musical instrument could be the ultimate brain workout. Learning is another great way to grow your brain and make it stronger. It helps to rewire and grow the brain, increase neuroplasticity, to connect unconnected parts of the brain. It’s also been shown to help slow brain aging, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.

And the more complex whatever it is you’re learning, the stronger and usually healthier the brain becomes. For example, if you decide out of nowhere to learn a musical instrument, you’re exercising lots of different parts of the brain.

If you’re learning by reading, reading and thinking uses your brain. Listening to instruction, listening to music, learning how to read music, understanding musical theory, learning to use your fingers or your mouth in new ways, all that new reading, thinking, listening, figuring out, muscle use, all uses and strengthens your brain.

So, if you want to harness music for your mental health, and maximize its impact, then how about.

Find complex music that you love to listen to, that you find enjoyable, that you always find yourself wanting more of. Don’t mind what other people think of your taste, avoid that unnecessary pressure, you don’t have to tell them and you can listen with your headphones. Besides, it’s therapy, they’ll understand.

Even better if you can find the music that fits those categories but also brings back happy memories, brings you to faces, places, people, times that made you happy or that you’re nostalgic for.

If you listen to that music on a walk in the sunshine with your friends and pets, you’ll be overloading the brain with health but in a very good way. More endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, oxygen, and even nitric oxide.

If you can do all that, at the same time, you might be amazed at just how wonderful you and your brain feel afterwards.

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