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How Sound Harmonizes with Your Mood

Sound waves affect hearing, one of your five primary senses;Ears (hearing), Skin and hair (touch), Eyes (sight), Tongue (taste), Nose (smell)... 'scientifically called audition.

Hearing is intrinsically linked to many of your body’s physiological reactions. Your ear drums pick up sound from a variety of sources, like birds chirping, a friend’s voice through a cell phone, the chime of an oven timer, or your amped-up workout playlist. The brain converts these sound waves into electrochemical nerve signals—and this is where sound really strikes a chord.

Sharp, loud noises trigger your brain to release cortisol, increasing your heart rate and priming the fight-or-flight response. The sound of a familiar or foreign voice will set off a different chemical cascade, and your brain and body respond accordingly. And though it used to be vital to survival, such a well-developed auditory system is now far more useful for communication. With the concerns of humanity shifting from wildlife to the workweek, your ears are tuned less to leopards and more to Def Leppard.

So, how does music reduce stress? Scientific evidence shows music affects your body like any other sound. Rhythms, beats, and audio samples often imitate nature, and the power of voice carries through both analog and digital means. Your ears signal your brain to produce dopamine, whether it’s Johnny Cash crooning or a favorite uncle cracking another bad joke.

Depending on the track, songs can impact:

  • dopamine, DHEA, cortisol, and other hormone levels

  • heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure

  • the psychobiological stress system

  • perceived stress levels and mood

  • post-task mental and physical revitalization

  • alertness and energy levels

With such an array of physical and chemical effects, it’s no wonder there’s a strong correlation between music and stress relief. Many of these same chemicals are linked to emotion, making music another sure way to master your mood.

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