September 2014

Viewing posts from September , 2014

Music: The Serotonin and Endorphin Booster


Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on September 1, 2014

01_ Sept 2014



A type of neurotransmitter that is found mainly in the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, learning and memory. Other possible ways to increase the levels of serotonin in the body include mood induction, light, exercise and diet.



In layman’s terms, endorphins are neurotransmitters that block pain, but they are also responsible for our feelings of pleasure. These feelings of pleasure exist to let us know when we have had enough of a good thing – and also to encourage us to go after that good thing in order to feel the associated pleasure

Adapted from:

Creativity, music, and wellbeing are inextricably linked.  Music has always proven to be therapeutic throughout history. “Being touched” by music and those who create it is not merely a metaphor. Music is everywhere. Due to the amazing digital age we live in, we can listen to our own musical choices any time we please.

Creating or performing music is engaging. It produces positive neurological effects on the brain in specific ways, especially affecting the human motor system. It can be physical and assist with coordination – like a drummer’s limbs all working simultaneously.

Yet, music can also be ambiguous and we are free to interpret it in an infinite amount of ways.It causes a wide range of modifications in the human body, including changes in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, skin temperature, muscle tension and much more. Music can distract us from pain or worry. It increases the levels of chemicals in the brain that promote creativity and reduce stress (i.e. serotonin).

Creating music can encourage collaboration and social skills. It influences our behavior, what we read, where we socialize and whom we choose to “hang out” with – particularly teenagers. Studies have proven that children who study a musical instrument weekly (especially piano) for at least 2 years develop slightly higher IQ’s than those who do not have the privilege. Music lessons and cognitive development are not limited to children. In one experiment conducted on senior citizens age 60 to 85, music study improved their memory skills.

Steve Jobs regularly held “walking” meetings. Mark Zuckerberg does too. The serotonin released from walking makes a person more creative and productive. It also improves the quality of sleep and creates a positive cycle throughout an average 24-hour day. Whether you go out for a stroll, take a brisk walk or jog at the gym, music coupled with cardiovascular exercise is an enormous serotonin booster.

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Young Singers of the Palm Beaches. Photo: E. Baumel.Young Singers of the Palm Beaches

Apparently, participating in a community choir is also a healthy musical activity. The support system and commitment to your group are benefits specific to singing in a chorus. It gets you out of the house and gives you a feeling of belonging, of being needed and combats the loneliness that often comes with being human in this day and age. Whether you are in the chorus or in the shower, singing can have similar effects as exercise. The release of endorphins gives the singer an overall upbeat feeling. Bottom line – singing reduces stress and promotes a good mood. Some even consider it a mild aerobic activity, as it involves deep breathing, another anxiety reducer. Deep breathing is an integral aspect of meditation and other relaxation techniques.

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Grandpa Sam in his drugstore – Circa 1930’s

My grandfather, Samuel Davis, was an amateur poet and a pharmacist by profession. He filled prescriptions that, in most circumstances, made people feel better. As a trained musician, I have a “prescription” for you. Ask yourself the following questions:

How do I feel right now?

How do I want to feel in five minutes or one hour from now?

What type of music will help me achieve this goal?

What type of music will “lift me up” this very moment?

Then, you know how it’s done:

–          Grab your headphones or turn on the stereo and pop in a CD.

–          Or find a style that suits you on Pandora, iTunes Radio or your favorite radio station.

Within minutes you’ll be boosting your serotonin, exciting your endorphins and seizing the day!

Singing and dancing is optional, but likely.


Live… Go… Do!

 For more information on the subject see:

This month, instead of my usual Top 5, I have a simple request:

Do your homework!

There is an overwhelming amount to do and see this upcoming season.

Plan ahead. NOW is the time to buy tickets to concerts and shows for the 2014-2015 season. Get the tickets you want at the prices you can afford before they’re sold out. Here are the links to my favorite Palm Beach County Venues and sites:

1) The Kravis Center

Book of Mormon, Diana Krall, Pilobolus Dance troupe and more!



2) The Duncan Theater

       PBSC Campus – Lake Worth

Top-notch comedy, music, dance and family fare:

3) Eissey Theater PBSC Campus

       North Palm Beach County

Shakespeare, jazz, ballet, pop and college concerts… see:

4) The Lake Worth Playhouse and the Stonzek Studio Theatre

One of the oldest and most loved theaters in Florida. Check out their upcoming 62nd season. And don’t forget the valuable independent films that can be seen next door at the Stonzek.

5) The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

A plethora of cultural events offered throughout the county.

Entertainment in many genres for all ages:


6) Don’t miss an exhibit. We have a fantastic museum season ahead      of us:

Norton Museum of Art:

(Note: The Norton Museum will be closed from September 8 – 23)


Boca Museum of Art:

The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium


For more museums and venues… see: