If you deal with sadness by belting along to Adele and crying it out, you’re not the only one — and it might be beneficial for your health. It may seem counterproductive to listen to sad music when you’re feeling down, but new research shows that there’s a scientific reason for why we love crying to our favorite tear-jerking songs.
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found a link between crying to music and feeling pleasure. In other words, crying while listening to sad songs really does make you feel better.
For the study, researchers had participants fill out a survey about how often listening to music gave them goosebumps, shivers down their spine, and the urge to cry. Researchers then split participants into two groups: those who cried, and those who got chills. All participants listened to six songs that elicited an emotional response from them (three of which they picked themselves) and reported each time they felt their specific reaction — tears or chills.
When they felt either of those reactions, they were directed to press a button and move a mouse on a screen to show how much pleasure they were experiencing while the researchers monitored their heart rate and any other signs of emotional arousal.
Those in the “chills-down-your-spine” group read their songs as both happy and sad, while those who teared up over their songs reported only finding them sad. But interestingly enough, both groups actually reported feeling pleasure and even experiencing deeper breathing while listening to their songs — indicating that sad music really can be cathartic when you’re letting your emotions out.
So the next time you’re feeling a little blue for any reason, give yourself some time to lay in bed and cry it out to something that’s in tune with your mood.
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