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Why Music Makes Us Happy

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Why do we listen to our favorite songs when we’re feeling down? What is it about music that makes humming along to a tune feel so natural and relaxing? Experts say that certain types of beats, melodies, and rhythms affect the brain in different ways and these can have a significant impact on your mood, stress levels, and even your immune system.
How Music Therapy Works
When you need a break from a stressful situation or just want to try out a new relaxation method, listening to some powerful music can completely change your mood or mindset. Music therapy has been used for thousands of years as a way to restore energy, uplift the mood, and even help with the natural healing process.

The official definition for music therapy is “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” (American Music Therapy Association, 2005) If you are working with a professional music therapist, you have a chance to communicate how you are feeling and improve your current state of mind using certain types of music and imagery, singing along to songs, and even playing your own instrument. Music can be part of the natural healing process because it creates both a physical and emotional response. Today, you can turn to different types of music and the sounds of various instruments to create a noticeable change in mood. Here are a few different types of music to get started with:

Uplifting Music to Boost Your Mood
Feeling down or stuck in a negative mood can take its toll on your stress levels and even make you physically ill. A low mood can take its toll on your day-to-day activities, but uplifting music can help you get out of that funk, fast. Inspirational music and “oldies” music with a fast beat can be a great pick-me-up when you’re having a tough day. If you can sing along to the song—even better! Just put together a playlist of songs on your computer or download a few uplifting tracks to your MP3 player or iPod so you always have something to count on when things get rough.

Relaxation Notes from the Far East
The Tibetan bowl is just one of several unique instruments used to create soothing sounds that can work wonders on your mood. Healing therapies from the Far East include music, aromatherapy, and bodywork; and the Tibetan bowl is commonly found in meditation rooms and relaxation rooms because they produce a complex set of sounds and help “clear” energy from the area.

According to the physical therapists at Mountain Valley Center in Georgia, Tibetan bowls are made from a mixture of metals and when rubbed with a mallet, they produce a complex and beautiful sound full of wonderful harmonics and overtones. These instruments have been used for centuries to produce relaxation and facilitate healing and meditation. Singing bowls come complete with a wooden playing mallet for striking and rubbing to create your own melodies.

The Effects of Classical Music
Music has been linked to memory and learning, and the complex melodies of classical music have proven to be particularly effective for relaxation and improving your retention rate.

Classical music can help improve your retention rate and learning abilities while studying; scientists explain that classical music scores from Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach release certain types of neurons into the brain which help the body relax. This makes you more receptive to learning and absorbing new information. When you’re having trouble studying or focusing, try turning on some classical music to get your brain on the right track.

Originally published on DivaVillage

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