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Waking up, working out, driving, shopping, watching movies or bingeing the newest TV series… music is omnipresent in our lives, whether we’re even aware of it or not (it takes a moment to realise just how strange movies and tv shows are without a score/soundtrack!).
I, for one, grew up in a musical family with multiple instruments in the house; to where some of my fondest childhood memories involve harmonizing with my family to songs in the car or choreographing dances for school performances with friends. Music was a constant; an infallible friend who saw me through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Then came the podcast boom. Now as a die-hard fan of auditory entertainment and edification, I, like the many millions around the world, quickly became an avid listener of people having conversations through a mic about a myriad of interesting topics. I became a self-confessed Podcast Addict (also the aptly named podcast app for many Androids!).
Sure, I still listened to music and find its imperative during my workouts, but it wasn’t until recently, when I discovered a new song I’d never heard in a moment of self-reflection, that I rediscovered the glorious power of music; the catharsis it provided was something no podcast or audiobook could offer.
Science has yet to explain the mystical power it has over us, like why exactly it can move us to tears, laughter, joy, pain, fear etc.; or why our response to it seems to be innate or primal. However, what the vast number of scientific studies do show, is that the rhythmic frequency of vibrations - otherwise known as music, has powerful and visible effects on the brain that is incredibly unique. Up until around 25 years ago, pre-fMRI technology, music was understood to be processed by the left side of the brain, whilst language was on the right. But with access to much higher quality research tools like fMRIs, which measures brain activity by detecting blood flow, researchers have found that music actually stimulates areas across our entire brain. 
For instance, the motor cortex comes into play when dancing, as does the cerebellum which controls our emotions, and that moment when you hear a song and immediately get transported to that time 10 years ago with that person in that place… that’s the hippocampus – your memory system. Then you have the world-renowned case of US congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords who regained her speech using music therapy after suffering brain damage from a gunshot wound in 2011; showing music’s effects on the temporal lobe (processes what we hear) in both the left and right hemispheres (left for language, right for sound). And these are just a few examples of just how much of our brain is covered!
Since COVID-19 has forced us into isolation, the loss of routine and social connection has put many at risk of deteriorating mental health. Not to mention the increasing rates of unemployment, loss of loved ones, and the incalculable amount of news coming in from every angle also taking its toll. All of these and various other aspects are “major psychological risk factors for anxiety, depression and self-harm,” says Professor Ed Bullmore, head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. That’s why, if there were ever a time to prioritise your self-care, it’s now. Which begs the question: how does music ‘play’ into this?
As outlined by neuroscientist, Kiminobu Sugaya and violinist Ayako Yonetani in a study at the University of Central Florida, music can impact the reduction of stress, pain, and symptoms of depression; as well as improve cognitive and motor skills, spatial-temporal learning, and neurogenesis - the brain’s ability to produce neurons. Similarly, there’s been notable associations between musical creativity and psychopathology. The results of one study even found that music had better results than medication for anxiety. The same study also highlighted evidence that music is associated with an antibody linked to immunity, as well as an increased count of cells that fight bacteria. 
When it comes to sleep, not only will the overwhelming thoughts of our current time and the uncertainty of our future effect our sleep, not getting a good night’s rest can be incredibly detrimental to our health. The good news is, experiments have shown that music is extremely effective at curing insomnia. Relaxing music helps by reducing noradrenaline in your system – the hormone that gets you ready for action, so incorporating some calming music 30 mins before bed can help re-establish healthy sleep patterns. 
Contrastingly, music can also trigger our pleasure centres as it releases oxytocin – the ‘love hormone’ experienced during sex and breast-feeding; as well as dopamine – the ‘happy hormone’. This response is so quick, our brains can already detect the highest peaks of pleasure with familiar music and get itself ready with a preliminary dopamine rush! [9-10]In addition, music has that magical power to make us dance – a physical exercise that also releases dopamine and its ‘happy hormone’ cousin, serotonin.[11-13]
So, need I say more? During a time where taking care of our health is so crucial, music has our back. Curate a killer playlist, pump up the volume, sing, dance, and maybe even learn a new instrument! Your mind and body will love you for it.
Yoommy is a contributing writer for Truth Naturals. With a BA in Journalism, she has a penchant for research and an insatiable curiosity. Her twenty-year love for health and fitness also comes with five years of work experience in supplementation. She prides herself on her knowledge of both worldy topics and pop-culture references - look out unsuspecting Gen Z-ers! She enjoys MMA, dance, resistance training, soccer, and any story that informs on the human condition - be it through the written word, film, music, or just a killer chat.