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Why music is great for your mental health

Monday, 21 February 2011 Taryn Ozorio

Taryn from Mind blogs about new research confirming the power of music to reduce stress.

Last month, researchers found that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. It also found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. It may be obvious to us, but it is strong evidence for the link between music and mental wellbeing.

As part of our Taking care of business campaign, we also ran a simple survey asking people how they use music to boost their mood. We surveyed over a thousand people and surprisingly only a third of people use music to give them a lift when they feel down at work.

It may be because people generally can’t listen to music at work — only half of employers surveyed allowed their staff to listen to music at work. It may also be because of the working environment: if you work directly with customers, drive or are in an open plan office, you can’t really listen to music while you work.

I love to listen to music at work, but at Mind we have an open plan office which makes it hard. It’s tough to find the right balance between enjoying music and disturbing people. And then of course there is the most controversial question of all — what to play?

(Tell us what your favourite working tunes are on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll add them to our Spotify playlist)

At another workplace we were split into small rooms; in our room there were only 8 of us and we could easily agree what to play (most of the time!). I think the music really helped, the office became a much more relaxing place to be.

Of course, there are lots of other things you can do besides playing music to manage stress, like eating properly and not working long hours.

Tell me what you think – is music an important part of your working life? Do you have a team radio or do you use headphones? What do you do to manage stress at work?

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