Daniela Gomez / Daily Nexus

Have you ever had chills go through your body when hearing a song? Or felt your heart swell when listening to a certain riff? This is most likely due to the dopamine and serotonin receptors in your brain reacting to the sounds introduced to your ears. Listening to the music that you love can be an immediate mood booster and can be a great way to get you out of a slump.

Every morning, I wake up and grab my phone. Instead of sinking into the depths of social media, I open my AirPods case, stick my earbuds in and open Spotify, the one app that has kept my mental health in check over the last five years.

Of course, it’s not just the app that has taken my heart. Music has been an everlasting constituent of my life since I was a child. Although my parents never played any musical instruments in their lives, they have practically become music connoisseurs. As a result, my parents exposed my older brother and I to the joys and beauty of sound, and music has become a part of us as well.

Music keeps my life in balance and I often find myself wondering: Where would we really be without it?

Sometimes, I feel like the only one who fully resonates with a certain song, lyric or melody. For instance, experiencing the first riff of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” causes my mind to transcend to an elevated state, offering me five minutes of peace from my dynamic life. Mac DeMarco’s “Ode to Viceroy” takes me back home, walking through the streets of Los Angeles. Mac Miller has a way of quieting the often overwhelming noise of the outside world. There is just something so remarkable about how music can connect us to a certain place or time. Akin to that, it can serve as a disconnect from the ceaseless, active spheres of our lives. 

Music keeps my life in balance and I often find myself wondering: Where would we really be without it?

When I’m fully immersed in songs like these, it can feel like no one else understands them as well as I do. But, I think that makes it so much more special. 

Music is a concept that is timeless. 

It has been appreciated since its early days and does a respectable job of bringing people a sense of tranquility. For instance, music played a large role in many people’s lives when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, giving them an outlet for any issues that they faced.

I really believe that the mere thought of music is a healthy one — it is an outlet for our emotions. It can be both a source of healing and a mental escape when needed. It is the absolute source of my happiness and I am almost sure that the same goes for a majority of the population, especially our generation.

Studies show an increase in brain activity and function in association with enhanced emotional responses and pleasure when listening to enjoyable music. Research has shown that brain function in the left frontal area is caused by emotions that music triggers, rather than emotions that we perceive from the music. When listening to pleasurable or emotionally powerful music, dopamine receptors in the brain react in a similar way as to when going on a run, having a good meal or meditating. 

Because of this, I think that it is safe to say that our responses to music aren’t purely in our imagination and affect so many of us.

I think music can help us cope in healthy ways. It is known to be a stress reliever, and different types of sounds and tempos impact our brains in different ways. 

Think about hearing an upbeat song with a great bridge or chorus. Your first instinct would probably be to dance around in your room and grab a hairbrush to scream the lyrics in the mirror, right? Listening to a calming song with no lyrics but a mesmerizing melody might shift your brain toward a meditative state, allowing it to distract itself from any hindrances in your life at any certain point in time.

If we learn how to use music as a healthy way to cope, we can channel our emotions and keep our mental health in check.

Now, you may ask, how can you use music as a way to deal with emotions?

Start by finding the songs that make you the happiest. They don’t necessarily have to be joyous songs per se, just songs that scratch your ear in the perfect way. 

Listen to them when you are feeling down. When you are stressed before an exam, blast your favorite song. If you have a bad day, let the music immerse itself into your brain. Let it inspire you.

You may also think, how do I let music enlighten me? How do I learn to love music?

Find a genre you like and browse. Take some time and discover new music. Make some playlists based on a mood, an event, a place or a person. Be creative and name them. Listen to your friends’ music. Fully immerse yourself in a song. Let the sounds fully occupy your ears and your body. Become a part of the music.

I think that fully immersing yourself in the idea of music and sound is special. Sometimes you have to get lost in it to understand it.

Personally, I spend my free time making playlists and every second of my day playing music. Music means everything to me, and I don’t know where I’d be without it. Fingers crossed that I’m not alone.

Michelle Shteynberg thinks music is the true meaning of life and would love music recommendations from any worthy individual (literally anyone).

A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the April 14 issue of the Daily Nexus.