Break Out Your iPod!

Do you listen to rock, alternative, hip-hop, classical, Latin, folk, or country? There are over 400 types of music and most people have at least two or three favorites. But did you know that music has the ability to alter your mood? While each person has his or her own favorite style of music, some generalizations can be made about what kind of music can energize you and what will help you wind down and relax. Many of us know that music can affect our mood, but do you know why?

Researchers have found that music with a strong beat stimulates the brain and ultimately causes brainwaves to resonate in time with the rhythm. Slow beats encourage the slow brainwaves that are associated with hypnotic or meditative states. Faster beats may encourage more alert and concentrated thinking. Just like you probably wouldn’t consider listening to a lullaby while exercising… probably isn’t a good idea… neither is it a good idea to listen to stimulating music when you’re trying to de-stress.

Some music exercises you might try include:

– Put on some relaxing music and sit in a comfortable chair, letting the sounds of the music wash over you.

– Choose music with a slow rhythm – slower than the natural heart beat which is about 72 beats per minute. Music that has a repeating or cyclical pattern is found to be effective in most people.

– Choose familiar music or music tunes associated with a positive or enjoyable memory.

Not only does music provide an immediate result, research also shows the positive effects of music on the brain are so profound that it continues to influence the way we process our emotions long after the music stops.

English poet and playwright William Congreve said, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Take a look at what’s on your iPod. Create a playlist for when you need a boost of energy and another one for when it’s time to relax. And turn up the music!

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