Mindful Music

Feelings of overwhelming stress are facing many NASH juniors, but a quick listen to music may help settle their worries.


photo by D. Crickets

With the stress of 11th grade weighing many NASH juniors down, going home and listening to music can lead to a better day.

Sarah Klosky, Staff Writer

I share an unordinary opinion with most people: I really love music. I enjoy most genres and will never turn down an opportunity to blast it in the car with my friends.

But many students are unaware of what attracts us to music and how beneficial it is for the youth. Overall, people who regularly listen to music have improved mental health and are able to focus better on important tasks.  

Regions of our brain, known as limbic and paralimbic areas, are connected to reward responses in our mind. These areas are activated during an enjoyable song, prompting what feels like euphoria. This euphoric feeling describes dopamine, known as the happy chemical, that is released when we experience things that are pleasurable to us.

When listening to music we prefer, dopamine is released in our brains. It releases during peak musical moments within a song and also when we anticipate those peak moments within the buildup of a song. Music is also a natural way of restoring dopamine, with a 9% dopamine increase occurring in the brain during a song that gave someone the “chills” in a 2011 study. 

Research has also continuously proven that music playing in the background while performing an activity stimulates cognitive performance in young adults. 

Stress can be managed or significantly lessened with the help of music. Listening to one’s favorite song takes effect on the autonomic nervous system, regarding the way the human body responds to stress. Recovery from major stress is able to take place more quickly. In addition to reducing stress, music is known to decrease the symptoms of many who experience depression and anxiety. It is able to dramatically increase mood and alleviate uneasy feelings. Although it depends on factors such as the type of music and the listener’s preferences, the action of listening to music, especially when it is upbeat, can aid in improving memory. 

Along with its many mental benefits, regularly listening to music has an array of physical benefits. While it is vital to maintain overall health through diet and exercise, music can play a small part in reducing low blood pressure and heart rate. The physical benefits of music can also be related to exercising. Endurance and athletic performance have a possibility of escalating and improving when listening to fast-paced music.

Music is also capable of reducing physical pain. Known as “music therapy,” it is able to promote physical rehabilitation. The job of a physical therapist is to establish goals for their patients and help them achieve their aspirations. A physical therapist may even incorporate music into recovery not only for the physical benefits, but the mental benefits can encourage a positive and optimistic attitude throughout the recovery period.

With the stress of junior year weighing many NASH students down (including me), going home and listening to music with emotional depth, or even music that is mindless, can lead to a better day. For example, Circles by Mac Miller, helps me overcome the various obstacles that junior year is known for across all high schools.  I personally find the album unlike any other when it comes to completing my school assignments. It is able to keep me focused on my schoolwork, and the music is especially well composed.

There is a song that fits just about every occasion, which is what makes music a light within what is often a dark, uncertain world. Music can even be considered a positive distraction from the unfortunate negativity that may seem overbearing to some. I have always had a love for music and the environments it is played in, but I have never recognized its benefits and how they impact my life until now. I am able to appreciate the art of music now in a way I have never before.