We all know that music can impact our moods. There are songs that relax you and those that push you to work hard; songs that make you reflective and somber, and those that uplift and inspire. Beyond just making us feel, psychologists have found that music and music therapy can contribute to good health in a number of different ways, from lessening anxiety to improving self-expression.
A recent article on positivepsychology.com includes this list of proven music therapy benefits:
1. It reduces anxiety and physical effects of stress
2. It improves healing
3. It can help manage Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
4. It reduces depression and other symptoms in the elderly
5. It helps to reduce symptoms of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia
6. It improves self-expression and communication
My brother Michael has a lot of experience in this field — he’s a licensed social worker who serves as chief executive officer of West Bergen Mental Healthcare in Ridgewood, N.J. “Therapists use music to help patients manage their thoughts and feelings,” he explains. “Exploring what music helps them feel more relaxed or more positive can be a very strong therapeutic tool to uplift the patient’s spirits.”
One of the best ways to evoke good feelings in our daily lives is by streaming a great playlist. There are countless playlists available in every musical style on all of the streaming services. Spotify, for example, offers Discovery Weekly, which creates playlists based on your personal listening habits. I turn to those sometimes when I just want to try something different or listen to music I might not think to play on my own. There are also curated playlists available, categorized by Genres & Moods in Spotify’s Browse section. Perhaps best of all, playlists can be shared with friends and family, so you can spread the good vibes.
I often use playlists, depending on not only what I’m feeling at the time, but how I want to feel as the day and evening progress. For example, when I first wake up in the morning, I tend to listen to Chillout playlists on Spotify. My favorite is called Morning Dose of Chillout. It’s just over an hour of nice, easy tracks that help me set the pace for my morning routine … and it goes great with coffee!
I have also assembled a number of playlists for specific purposes. I’m a lifelong guitar player, but there are still times when I need some extra motivation. When that happens, I call up a custom Pandora playlist I’ve created that contains selected tracks from all my personal rock guitar heroes. It immediately makes me feel good, not only because I like the songs and players, but because it inspires me to keep playing and become better. I have raucous playlists for working out and quiet playlists for when I do yoga (one of my favorites is a Spotify playlist called Spa, Calm Meditation; Refresh, Rest and Relaxation — 60 songs that really put me in the right frame of mind). I also have playlists for vacations (predominantly reggae) and playlists for dinnertime (mostly jazz, which I find helps aid the digestion).
Perhaps the most eclectic collection I’ve found on Spotify is called the Superior Study Playlist. This 925-song (really!) assortment is described as “Vibe: Focus music with minimal lyrics.” It includes a wide variety of genres, including classical, soundtracks, instrumental versions of popular songs, lo-fi, post-rock and much more. While I have not come even close to listening to it all just yet, I’ve found it to be a useful blend of tracks that let me work and concentrate while still listening in the background.
So whether you want to feel inspired to climb a mountain or just climb onto the couch, crank up your smartphone, car stereo or home audio system and check out some playlists on your favorite music streaming service. Create some of your own or listen to curated ones. Delve in, discover new music and don’t forget to share!
Check out some of our related blog posts to help you best enjoy streaming music: