We all have those days when we find ourselves in a bad mood, those days when we are more susceptible to negativity and feeling a little down.
It could be that someone has upset us, or it could be that work is getting on top, or the bills are piling up.
Whatever the cause of the grey cloud above our head, music is a great natural mood promoter that can lift serotonin levels (the happy hormone) and give us better clarity of mind (1).
In this post we'll explore how a negative state affects your mind, and how by using the right music in the right setting, you can quickly cultivate a more positive outlook.
Why Positivity Breeds Positivity
There is no truer saying. When you’re in the zone, when you’re on fire, effortlessly approaching everything with a positive mind frame, getting the daily grind done without moaning, good things just seem to go your way.
This is the law of attraction, which simplified means that the world works as an energy mirror, reflecting the positive and the negative, the yin and yang, if you like.
What you put out you get back; the world mirrors your energy and reflects right back at you.
However, the minute we let negativity invade our space, the moment we let someone else’s negativity into our aura, we begin to slip into a rut, a rut that can be quite difficult to climb out of.
So it's important that we don't dwell in this space too long and elevate ourselves to a higher state of consciousness.
How the Mental Affects the Physical
The problem with being in a negative mind frame is that it isn’t just the mind that is affected but the body too.
Feeling negative affects our energy levels. The brain is the control panel for our inner ecosystem, and negative thoughts cause hormonal reactions that course through our entire body.
For example, a negative frame of mind can cause you to have trouble sleeping, which in turn affects your energy levels during the day.
Other symptoms include: irritability, anger, and loss of interest in intimacy. Although more than simply feeling a bit blue, depression is known to cause headaches, chronic body aches, and in the long term even heart disease (2, 3).
Negativity is like a virus: It leads to low productivity, affects personal relationships, and can become a real hindrance to progression.
It's a vicious circle. The more down you get the less zest you have for life. And that's the irony: when you most need to get up you have no energy!
The good news is that research shows music is a good way to improve mood and can even treat depression.
Music therapy shows efficacy in decreasing anxiety levels and improving functioning of depressed individuals – Cochrane Systematic Review (4).
Choosing Your Positive Energy Music
Some people like to listen to high-energy music like house, hip-hop, or rock to get their adrenaline pumping and raise their spirits.
These genres might be good motivators, but the problem is that this adrenaline will drop as quickly as it rose. You may soon be back exactly where you started. You need something more sustainable that lasts the whole day through.
Listening to calmer, more meditative music can center the mind and root it in the present moment. It brings clarity of thought and balances the mind. This leads to better decision making and more positive interactions that lead to increased opportunity.
Going one step further than simply meditation music, is to listen to brainwave entrainment music. This type of music has the ability to shift the brain from a negative state to a more positive one.
- When you feel anxious and highly strung, listen to a Theta track to bring about a calm mind.
- If you can't concentrate and feel agitated at work, put on an Alpha track for deep focus and productivity.
- If you feel lethargic and tired, try a Beta track to wake up the brain and revitalize your senses.
- For an overactive mind, try a Delta track at bedtime.
How to Relax and Listen
Nature is also a great mood lifter.
We humans are supposed to spend a lot of time outside. But instead we spend far too much time sitting indoors and in urban environments devoid of green space.
Research supports this:
In one study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after a 90-minute walk in an urban setting versus a rural setting.
Those who walked in nature had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex – the brain region active during repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions (5).
Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, noted:
When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts.
More recent research has found that as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting can help college students feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress.
Lead author Gen Meredith said of the results:
It doesn't take much time for the positive benefits to kick in. We're talking 10 minutes outside in a space with nature (5).
Combining meditation music with being in nature is a recipe for positivity and increased feelings of contentedness.
So when you feel down in the dumps, try the following to lift your mood:
- Load some relaxing music like Positive Thinking onto your phone or .mp3 player – or whatever device you use.
- Set aside at least 15 minutes to relax and listen.
- Find a green space like a park, your garden, or anywhere that is surrounding by trees, plants and grass.
- Make it a space free of distraction, so you won't be disturbed by any external sounds or people.
- Sit or lie down and put on your headphones.
- Press play and close your eyes.
To help you relax deeper and promote greater clarity of mind, you can follow the 6-step breathing exercise in this post.
No Access to Nature?
I appreciate that some people simply don't have easy access to a green space, or indeed a quiet space – particularly if you live in a sprawling urban metropolis like Bangkok and even some areas of New York.
The good news is that music can partially solve this issue.
Meditation music tends to use nature-inspired sounds that soothe the mind and evoke relaxation: Sounds like rainfall, ocean waves, bird song, and white noise that emulates wind, etc.
There’s no cure for the blues like listening to relaxing music while being amongst nature. And when the music also uses special frequencies to shift your brain state to a more relaxed, balanced and present state, it's a really transformative experience.
It’s easy to turn to temporary fixes another coffee or a drink or a cigarette. But these things are not only addictive but don't solve the root problem, which is a mental imbalance.
Science supports the theory that music can lift your mood naturally. It's a natural, safe, holistic way of switching a negative state of mind to a positive one.
It costs a hell of a lot less than drowning your sorrows in a bar, that’s for sure. And you don't need to buy anyone else a drink.