How music affects your mood

A woman wearing headphones as she sits on a sofa

When you put on music, you may choose tunes that suit your mood. But have you ever considered how the music you choose can impact how you’re feeling too? Research suggests music can have a much greater impact on mental wellbeing than you have considered before.

During Covid-19 lockdowns, mental health was affected. Not being able to meet loved ones and restrictions on what you could do affected wellbeing. On top of this, worries about the risk of illness, work, and other things may have meant people’s mental health suffered.

While spending longer in homes, more than a fifth of people said live-streaming and music was the biggest support to their mental health, according to an Evening Standard report.

During lockdown, artists used technology to bring gigs and interviews into the homes of their fans. From live music concerts to collaborations with other artists around the world, it helped people experience music even as events were being rescheduled. Some 16% of people also said knowing others were tuning into live streams with them made lockdown much less of a lonely experience.

Restrictions are lifting and the UK is gradually getting back to normal, including reopening live music venues. But music can still have a profound impact on your mood and wellbeing. Here are five ways music can affect your mood and excellent reasons for turning up your favourite songs.

1. Music can bring back happy memories

Listening to a song can take you back to another time. Whether a song brings back memories of a fantastic holiday or spending time with a loved one, music is a great way to access happy memories.

The nostalgia music can induce is one of the reasons we often put on songs from the past. The research found that 73% of people said they enjoy listening to music from artists who were in their prime decades ago. So, if you often find that you put on music from your youth, you’re not alone; turning up the classics from a bygone decade can take you back in an instant.

2. Music can boost your mood and reduce stress

Research has shown that music can reduce stress and anxiety by helping you to relax. In fact, music therapy is sometimes used in the treatment of depression and anxiety.

Sometimes after a tough day, putting on an uplifting song is all you need to create a better mindset and improve your mood. Having a list of happy songs to go to when you need it most can help you improve your overall wellbeing and mental health.

3. A good song can help you process your emotions

It might be a cliché that people blast out songs about heartbreak when they’ve gone through a break-up themselves, but music can help you process your emotions and experiences. Emotional songs can help you deal with what you’re feeling and can be especially therapeutic if you’re going through a difficult time.

Much like listening to music during lockdown, the right song when you’re struggling can help you feel less alone and bring a sense of comfort.

4. Some music genres can improve your focus

When you’re working or are concentrating on a task, background music can improve your focus on what you’re doing. Putting on the latest pop tunes may not help in this case, but instrumental, classical or ambient music has been shown to improve concentration. It’s thought to have this impact by making you feel calmer and helping to filter out distractions.

A 2007 study from Stanford University in the US suggests that the right music can help you retain new information more easily. So, next time you’re practising a presentation or learning something new, turning on classical music could really help.

5. Music can get you moving

It’s well known that being active and exercising is good for both your physical and mental health. Music with a good beat can get you tapping your foot and moving in no time at all.

When you’re exercising, choosing high-energy music for your playlist can help you push yourself that bit further and enjoy your workout more too.