Does music help empaths? (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss Does music helps empaths?. We will do that by discussing the role of music in our lives. We will also discuss empaths and explain what role music plays in their lives.

Does music help empaths? 

Yes. Music does help empaths. It can act as a way to cope especially when they are overly stimulated and want to calm themself or when they are looking to boost their mood. A recent study has shown that the reward system of the brain lights up when empathic people listen to music. It is the same area that activates when they are empathizing with others. So, in a way, we can say that music acts as a way to give them pleasure and makes them feel like they are connecting to someone at an emotional level. They consider it a rewarding experience and enjoy it thoroughly.

Role of music in our lives

Music is truly the universal language, and when it is excellently expressed how deeply it moves our souls.” —David O. McKay

Music plays an important role in our life. It helps lift our mood when we are having a bad time. Similarly, we can’t help but relate to the lyrics of the songs we really like. It acts as a mood booster and makes us feel like someone really understands us. For many people, music acts as a coping mechanism that they can turn to when they are having difficulty processing their emotions. Some people use it as a distraction from negative emotions. 

Many singers report music as a way for them to escape from their difficult lives. They mention that their emotional and psychological survival could not have been possible without music. Similarly, some songwriters use it as a  means of pouring out their hearts in the lyrics, which acts as a form of catharsis. In the same way, singers put their emotions in the song while singing so much so that an entire audience is able to get that message. 

Music takes people into a different world. For some people, it acts as a means to focus especially when studying for an important exam. For others, it can be a good way to relax their nerves. Many patients with anxiety listen to calming music to relax. Meditation is also made a more wholesome experience by using music. 

Scientific researches have shown that music has a strong effect on our brain. It helps us in relieving pain, reducing stress, and improving our memory. 

Empaths

Empaths are people who are highly sensitive and can detect the emotions of other people. Sometimes, they absorb the emotions of others which can affect them in a negative way. Empaths are able to understand the world from another person’s perspective. They try to be compassionate, genuine and truly help other people in their lives. 

However, due to their tendency to often lend a listening ear to others and offering a helping hand to others, they may take on the emotional load of people which may eventually become a burden for them. Being overly stimulated can also unsettle them especially in crowds. Due to high sensitivity, they need time away from people in order to recharge and connect with themself. 

Many empaths utilize different coping strategies to recharge themself. Some prefer taking a walk in nature. Others feel calm doing meditation or deep breathing exercises. Some also feel better journaling and writing their thoughts down. The purpose of all these activities is to unload the emotional burden and channel it out into something artistic in order to feel emotionally light and peaceful. 

Role of music in an empath’s lives

Based on the applications of music stated above, it is apparent that music plays a big role in our lives especially in reducing stress and overall improving our mood. So, the question arises whether music helps empaths. In answer to this question, yes, many empaths use music as a way to channel out any unnecessary negative energy. It is a form of healthy coping for them. 

In fact according to a study conducted at Southern Methodist University, people with high empathy process music in a different way. Areas of their brain sensitive to rewards and responsible for social information processing show higher activity.

The study was conducted on 20 undergraduate students. Their brains were scanned while they listened to different pieces of music. The choice of music was independent of their likes vs dislikes and familiarity vs unfamiliarity. The music that was familiar was chosen by the participant before the experiment. After the experience, they had to fill a questionnaire on empathy in order to see if there were any differences in how they felt about putting themself in someone else’s shoes. Next, their brain scans were compared for high empathy people and low empathy people. 

High-empathy and low-empathy people share a lot in common when listening to music, including roughly equivalent involvement in the regions of the brain related to auditory, emotion, and sensory-motor processing,” said lead author Zachary Wallmark, an assistant professor in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts.

However, they differ as well since people who possess high empathy are more involved and the areas of their brain that light up are the same areas that get activated when they are empathizing with others. This indicates that while listening to music, these people enjoy the experience and find it full of pleasure so much so that they consider it a reward as the reward system of their brain gets more active. 

In 2014, studies also reported that up to 20% of the population is highly empathetic. These people are sensitive to social and emotional stimuli and can respond to them accordingly. The above-stated study is one of the only few that has indicated a connection of empathy and music by using fMRI. It also explains that music is not just a way for empaths to express themselves through art. It is deeply connected to how we process the social world. 

Wallmark said  “If music was not related to how we process the social world, then we likely would have seen no significant difference in the brain activation between high-empathy and low-empathy people,” and added that, “This tells us that over and above appreciating music as high art, music is about humans interacting with other humans and trying to understand and communicate with each other,” 

He further explained that our culture emphasizes music education and music thinking because it is a form of aesthetic reflection. However, their study helps them in explaining how music enables us to connect to others. It helps us understand the power of music in reminding us to be empathic to others in our social interactions. 

According to Wallmark, “This may indicate that music is being perceived weakly as a kind of social entity, as an imagined or virtual human presence,” 

Recently in music psychology, studies show that empathy is connected with how we respond emotionally to music. How we listen to music and what music we prefer e.g. people who are empathic like sad music. This study also found that people who were high in empathy were clear about their likes and dislikes in music and stated it more passionately compared to low empathy people. They also preferred to listen to unfamiliar music.

FAQs: Does music help empaths?

How does music affect empathy?

Music affects empathy by activating the brain’s reward system. It suggests that empaths find it a rewarding experience.

What are empaths good at?

Empaths are good at understanding the emotions of others. They are good listeners and offer reasonable advice to others. They can work well as therapists.

Do empaths get angry?

Yes. empaths get angry like any other person. Their anger can be quite destructive as it can add to their stress and anxiety. At times, their emotions may overspill which can end in anger outbursts. 

Do empaths have anxiety?

Yes. Empaths can experience anxiety along with other psychological conditions like depression, panic attacks, and also physical symptoms like fatigue, headache, etc. 

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Does music helps empaths?. We found that music does help empaths. It can act as a way to cope especially when they are overly stimulated and want to calm themself or when they are looking to boost their mood. A recent study has shown that the reward system of the brain lights up when empathic people listen to music. It is the same area that activates when they are empathizing with others. So, in a way, we can say that music acts as a way to give them pleasure and makes them feel like they are connecting to someone at an emotional level. They consider it a rewarding experience and enjoy it thoroughly.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00066/full

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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