When working hard on completing a project, many of us try to listen to some music in order to focus on our task at hand and increase productivity. But why do we have this impulse — and does it pay off?
Music helps improve the brain’s health and functioning in a variety of ways, and we are often enjoying the benefits without even realizing the music is the reason.
“It improves intelligence, mood, productivity and reduces stress for people of all ages. Music is great for the brain because it activates nearly every part of it. Listening to music consistently results in a healthier brain,” says Dr. Catherine Jackson, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Board Certified Neurotherapist and Board Certified Coach.. As beneficial as listening to music is, playing an instrument has even greater brain benefits.
Music has been part of the intimate fabric of human connection, wellness, and communication for thousands of years.
“It moves us. It binds us. It shapes emotions, impacts mood and influences our brain,” says Dr. Michael Gervais, High-Performance Psychologist and Co-Founder of Compete to Create. “Music is a staple in locker rooms across the globe. Athletes are required to integrate their mind and body and music can be a massive influence toward that aim.”
When we listen to music our mood improves and we feel happier. As a result, when we listen to music at work or while we complete work, we also feel happier and are less stressed. “Happier, less stressed people are more productive as they complete work more quickly, complete task more accurately and come up with a greater number of, better and more creative ideas,” says Dr. Jackson.
Music without lyrics often has benefits all its own.
Studies have shown that listening to music without lyrics can improve attention and performance.”In practice, this type of music has a “white noise” type of effect, whereby listeners experience an enhanced emotional state,” says Samantha Morrison, a Health and Wellness expert for Glacier Wellness, a company dedicated to natural and sustainable health products.
However, studies have also found that the listener’s subjective preference to the music may actually be more influential than the type of music itself. In any case, “listening to music affects our brain’s natural pattern recognition and temporal predictions centers, it invariably leads to the release of dopamine. As a result, listening to music creates a positive feedback loop of reward while lowering stress, improving attention, and increasing overall productivity,” says Morrison.
Most importantly, it teaches us to listen.
“The word ‘obey’ is derived from a Latin term which means, ‘to reach out towards that to which one listens.’ Neither obedience nor listening are common features of modern society,” says Olivier De Wulf, an Audio-psycho-phonologist and president of NeuraSonic.
True listening means charging your own brain with nourishment and energy.
It also means radically changing human relationships. “I have worked with people who are stuck around a trauma. But the trauma itself isn’t the whole problem. We build walls around ourselves to protect ourselves from that fear. And because of those walls, there’s an awareness that there’s much more potential that’s not being expressed in our lives – and that is the cause of our depression and our unhappiness,” says De Wulf.
By learning to listen and focus, we can channel our productivity and maximize our performance — all while listening to tunes we enjoy. Sounds like a win-win.