Instead of eating, listen to music – Studies show that listening to tunes helps us cope with difficult emotions

To get rid of lingering bad feelings, most people either turn to emotional eating or listen to music. It turns out, there’s a link between these two coping mechanisms, according to the findings of a recent study.

Negative emotions are described as unwanted feelings, such as depression and anxiety. It’s part of human nature to want to avoid these emotions as much as possible, which is why different adaptive mechanisms are employed to get rid of them.

Emotional eating is said to be a maladaptive self-regulation strategy that aims to satisfy emotional health instead of hunger. However, this will cause a person to eat more than necessary and lead to health repercussions associated with overeating such as obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.

A healthier alternative to emotional eating, according to researchers, is to listen to music, which activates the same neurons in the brain as emotional eating would. People who listen to music to cope do it to discharge. Simply put, they pick tunes that share the same negative feeling, which helps them release it. For other people, they listen to divert or entertain themselves, which means picking more upbeat and positive music to forget what they were feeling.

The study, which was led by Dr. Annemieke van den Tol from De Montfort University in the U.K., examined whether a link existed between these two coping mechanisms. Results showed that people who listened to discharge had the tendency to engage in emotional eating. On the other hand, those who listened to be entertained were less likely to engage in emotional eating.

They also observed emotional eaters who listened to music for any reason had better mental health compared to those who did not. A comparison of the type of music emotional eaters listened to also showed that those who listened to sad and angry music were less emotionally healthy compared to those who listened to positive music.

These findings prove that listening to music, specifically positive music, is indeed a better alternative to emotional eating. (Related: Six easy ways to get your emotional eating habits under control.)

Other positive effects of listening to music

Listening to music isn’t just for drowning out your sorrows. There are many other benefits to it, such as:

  • Enhancing physical performance – A study has shown that runners who listen to motivational music were able to run faster than those who didn’t listen to music or those who listened to calming music. In addition, music is also said to improve endurance during workouts.
  • Helping achieve better sleep – People who listen to classical music at least 45 minutes before bedtime were able to sleep better compared to those who didn’t. This works even for people who are dealing with insomnia.
  • Raising IQ and academic performance – Allowing children to partake in music lessons will largely increase their IQ and their predicted academic performance. It’s not just for children: Music can also help improve cognitive performance even in adults.
  • Reducing pain – A study showed that intensive care, geriatric care, and cancer patients were able to experience less pain while listening to classical music or music of their own choosing. It’s even shown to be more effective in reducing pain compared to standard treatments for cancer patients.

Learn more studies about psychology and coping with negative emotions by visiting

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