By: Eva Ocean

Welcome to the home stretch. . . the last two weeks of the semester, filled with papers, exams, and last-minute learning.  As you wade further into finals season, use these science-supported tips to create the ultimate playlists for productivity, relaxation, and most importantly, success!  

  1. The Munchie Playlist 

A 2018 study published by USF found that our music choice directly influences our food orders.  Listening to slower, more calming music encourages us to take more time while we order and make healthier food choices.  Alternatively, loud and fast-paced tunes create cravings for junk food.  This technique is commonly used at fast food restaurants, but it presents some interesting food for thought the next time you find yourself hungry for a cheeseburger while listening to Dua Lipa.

  1. The Study Playlist

Studying with music is highly contested.  While some researchers believe it hinders productivity, others counter that it has a neutral or beneficial influence. Support for listening to music while working can be traced back to a series of papers published in the 90’s.  This research demonstrated that higher work quality is a result of the mood boost from music and subsequent performance.  So, if you’re planning to listen to music while you create flashcards, listen to something you love!

  1. The Workout Playlist

An essential part of exercise, music has a myriad of benefits.  Research on the positive outcomes of listening to music while exercising date all the way back to a 1911 study on music and cycling performance.  Alongside improving mood, music lessens the brain’s perception of pain and regulates the body’s motions, increasing heart rate and the quality of the workout.  The most effective music has a fast-tempo, low variation, and a moderate degree of familiarity.  

  1. The Happy Playlist (for when finals are over)

Finding the perfect happy song is one of the most satisfying experiences.  Thanks to a 2015 study by Dutch researcher Jacob Jolij, we now know the ingredients that go into creating that toe-tapping, smile-inducing melody.  The happiest songs tend to be written in major keys, have faster tempos, and contain lyrics about nonsense or happy events like parties.  According to Jolji, the ultimate happy song (and one of my personal favorites) is Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, followed closely by Abba’s Dancing Queen.  

This has been an unusual semester, but as we wind down remember to take a deep breath and put on a song you love.  Good luck on finals and have a safe, healthy, and happy break thereafter!