Listen to music reduce stress

Releasing Stress Through the Power of Music | Counseling Services

Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Music is effective for relaxation and stress management.

Research confirms these personal experiences with music. Current findings indicate that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 - 14 hertz or cycles per second). This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. To induce sleep (a delta brainwave of 5 hertz), a person may need to devote at least 45 minutes, in a relaxed position, listening to calming music. Researchers at Stanford University have said that "listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication. " They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.

So what type of music reduces stress the best? A bit surprising is that Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical (the "largo" movement), and easy listening music. Since with music we are rarely told the beats per minute, how do you choose the relaxation music that is best for you? The answer partly rests with you: You must first like the music being played, and then it must relax you. You could start by simply exploring the music on this web page. Some may relax you, some may not. Forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that irritates you can create tension, not reduce it. If that happens, try looking for alternatives on the internet or consult with Counseling Service staff for other musical suggestions. It is important to remember that quieting your mind does not mean you will automatically feel sleepy. It means your brain and body are relaxed, and with your new calm self, you can then function at your best in many activities.

The links below each open relaxing musical selections in YouTube.

A Moment of Peace Meditation
Aneal & Bradfield, "Heaven and Earth Spirits" track from Life & Love). Lovely contemporary piano music with accompanying instruments and nature scenes.

Echoes of Time
C. Carlos Nakai from the Canyon Trilogy. Serene Native American flute music, with a picture of Nakai backlit by the sun at the Grand Canyon.

The Winding Path
Ken Kern from The Winding Path. Highly rated, beautiful piano music with accompanying instruments with pictures of exquisite flowers and plants.

Classical Indian Music for Healing and Relaxing
Gayatri Govindarajan, "Pure Deep Meditation" track. Lovely and rhythmic music played on the veena, the most ancient of the Indian plucked-instruments, with nature scenes.

Angels of Venice
Angels of Venice from Music for Harp, Flute and Cello. Classical with 3 instruments with nature pictures.

Earth Drum
"Spirit Vision," (David & Steve Gordon. Serene and lovely contemporary Native American informed-drumming music utilizing Taos Log Drum and Incan Pan along with other instruments and ocean/forest nature scenes.

Buddha Spirit
Aneal & Bradfield from Light & Love. Reflective but strong contemporary music utilizing various instruments and occasional humming voices with colorful oscillating fractals

Spa Relaxing Music
Tranquil contemporary instrumental with piano and a fixed candle light.

Relaxation Music: 1-Hour Meditation Candle
Serene contemporary instrumental with piano and one flickering candle.

Sleep Deeply
Dan Gibson. Nature sounds and instrumental, tranquil sleep music.

Marconi Union. The sounds on this video are carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines that help slow a listener's heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and lower levels of the cortisol stress hormone.

Can Listening to Music Reduce Stress? Research, Benefits, and Genres

Listening to your favorite music may have more health benefits than you realize. Here’s how songs can reduce stress and help you heal.

It’s not until we forget our headphones that we realize just how much we rely on music to help us through the day. Our favorite music seems capable of pumping us up before an important moment, calming us down when we’re upset, and just about anything in between.

But is there actually a scientific explanation for this? As it turns out, yes!

Music has been widely studied and revered throughout human history for its ability to both entertain and heal. Countless experts have investigated how listening to music can potentially have therapeutic effects on a range of mental and physical health conditions, or just as a way to cope with everyday life.

Contemporary research suggests music has significant power to help reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, and improve focus among many more benefits.

Stress — the feeling of emotional tension, overwhelm, or feeling unable to cope — affects us mentally and physically.

Stress has a biological impact that causes your body to release specific hormones and chemicals that activate your brain in certain ways. For example, when we are highly stressed, our heart rate and blood pressure can go up, and our adrenal gland begins producing cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone.”

Short term, cortisol can help us find the focus and energy we need to deal with a difficult situation, but when the body is exposed to excess cortisol for a prolonged period of time, it causes perpetual, exhausting states of fight, flight, or freeze. Ongoing or chronic stress can lead to developing an anxiety disorder, depression, chronic pain, and more.

Across time and space, music has had tremendous success as a tool for stress relief. While some types of music such as classical and ambient have long been studied for their calming effects, listening to your personal favorite music of any genre also has benefits.

A 2020 overview of research into music and stress suggests that listening to music can:

  • lower our heart rate and cortisol levels
  • release endorphins and improve our sense of well-being
  • distract us, reducing physical and emotional stress levels
  • reduce stress-related symptoms, whether used in a clinical environment or in daily life

How does music affect your brain?

As of 2019, the average hearing person across the world listened to 18 hours of music a week! This number is likely to be even higher in 2021.

So what is music actually doing to us during those hours we listen to it?

Well, here’s a super simple breakdown:

  • Music sounds move through our ears as vibrations.
  • The inner ear translates these vibrations into electrical signals.
  • Neurons transmit these signals to certain areas of the cerebral cortex in the brain.
  • Dedicated regions of the brain detect the different elements of the signals (like the tone, pitch, rhythm).
  • As the brain puts together all of this information so that you can sense the musical experience, it can influence our emotions and bodily systems, which is why scientists are so interested in studying it!

Most investigations into music’s health effects center on its ability to calm us down and relieve stress. In recent years, this research has expanded in exciting and surprising new directions.

Some recent findings include the following:

  • Reduced cortisol levels. A recent 2021 study showed that adults who listened to both personal and neutral selections of music, at home and in a laboratory environment, had significantly “reduced cortisol levels.” This was found regardless of the music type.
  • Benefits in mental health treatments. An overview of 349 studies on music’s usefulness as a mental health treatment for conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, found that 68.5% of music-based interventions had positive results.
  • Reduced burnout. Music therapy also had significant benefit in preventing burnout in operating room staff. A 6-week study showed that after having access to 30-minute music listening sessions each day at work for a month, staff reported decreased stress levels and less emotional exhaustion.
  • Helps you fall asleep. 62% of respondents to a 2018 survey reported they use music (from multiple genres) to help them fall asleep, mostly because it relaxed them, and distracted them from daily stressors. People who used music less were more likely to have lower quality sleep.
  • Reduced depression. Music listening or music therapy reduced depression levels, according to a 2017 review, and was associated with increased confidence and motivation, especially in group settings.
  • Reduced anxiety in children. A 2021 review of articles from 2009 to 2019 showed that music significantly reduced anxiety for children leading up to and during medical procedures.
  • Helps people cope with the pandemic. A survey of over 5,600 people from 11 countries demonstrated that music has played a very important role during the COVID-19 pandemic in helping people cope during lockdown, and meet their well-being goals across culture, age, and gender lines.
  • Improved quality of life with Alzheimer’s disease. Especially when tried in the form of personal playlists for relaxation, research showed that music interventions can have positive effects on the behavior and cognition of people with Alzheimer’s disease, improving quality of life.

Meditation is an ancient tradition that is practiced in cultures all over the world and is an integral part of some religions and types of yoga. There are many types of mediation, and people use some types to help treat mental and physical health conditions.

Usually, meditation aims to focus, center, calm, or direct your attention. It can also help relax our bodies. So it can pair well with music for some people.

Often, music used for meditation has a slow tempo, which can reduce heart rate, and also lower anxiety and stress levels. Guided meditation involves music with a narrator or speaker that directs your energy flow and focus, or offers positive affirmations.

Music therapy is different from just listening to music, although listening is a big part of it!

Music therapists work with a variety of patients of all ages. Like other forms of therapy, including art therapy, music therapists plan individualized sessions to help you meet your goals.

Music therapy can include goal-oriented music listening, playing and composing music, and songwriting, among other activities. These kinds of “purposeful” interactions with music can help you work through emotions or issues that are bothering you, encourage positive feelings, and even assist with speech or physical therapy.

A 2015 study compared the effects of music therapy with a therapist versus music medicine (where music was played without a therapist) among people with cancer. Even though all music listening showed positive results, 77% of patients preferred music therapy sessions to just listening to music on their own.

Research shows that music can help relieve both chronic pain and post-operative pain:

  • Research shows that listening to “self-chosen, pleasant, familiar music” reduced pain in people with fibromyalgia.
  • According to a small-scale 2017 study, listening to music in headphones while under local or general anesthesia can lower cortisol levels during surgery, and decrease post-op pain and stress.

How does it work? Scientists believe the effect may result from music actually shifting brain activity away from pain-related connectivity patterns, as well as creating positive emotions, and offering a distraction.

Music isn’t just limited to helping with physical pain. Stress causes emotional and psychological pain as well, which music can help alleviate.

Maybe you’ve found yourself searching for “study playlists” on Spotify or YouTube. Well, it turns out there’s a reason why millions of other people stream these playlists too!

Listening to music has been shown to improve focus on certain tasks, especially if the task is more complex. Music may also help sharpen our brain’s ability to recall information and make connections.

In one recent experiment, participants were asked to press a button anytime the hand on a special clock started moving. The authors found that when people listened to their preferred background music while doing this “low-demanding sustained-attention task,” their minds wandered less, and they were more focused, compared to those without music.

Anxiety, stress, and pain often hang out together. Music may be one way to help manage them and their troublemaking.

As some of the previously discussed research indicates, music can help reduce anxiety in both adults and children before and during medical procedures.

In one study of over 950 critically ill patients, 30 minutes of music therapy a day was consistently associated with lower rates of anxiety and stress. Music’s ability to decrease biological stress responses like heart rate and cortisol levels also helps tackle anxiety.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of your central nervous system are involuntary or automatic, meaning they work without you having to think about them.

Doctors may refer to the parasympathetic side as “rest and digest,” since it takes care of things when the body is at rest, while sympathetic is “fight or flight,” in charge of the body in motion.

When we are thrown into a stressful situation, it’s hard to calm back down and stay grounded. Deep breathing is one way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to move back into “rest and digest.”

One study shows that some types of music may also be a way to reactivate the parasympathetic nervous system quicker following a period of increased heart rate, like after exercising.

Certain genres of lyric-less music, like classical and ambient, are historically the subject of most research studies into music and stress. While there’s evidence that they can reduce stress and anxiety, that doesn’t mean they’re “better” than other genres of music.

For many of the studies mentioned in this article, music listening involved multiple genres or songs chosen by both the participants and the researchers. In fact, the American Music Therapy Association states that “All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient’s life.”

We also use different kinds of music for different purposes. Since we all have special relationships with our favorite songs and genres, we can use those to invoke certain emotions and feelings unique to that relationship. For example:

  • Classical music is associated with a soothing, calming effect.
  • Rap music can be inspiring and motivating when in a low mood or dealing with difficult life circumstances.
  • Heavy metal music can “enhance identity development” and help you become better-adjusted.

Musicians, researchers, and music therapists have actually claimed to create “the most relaxing” song ever, called “Weightless. ” But you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Listening to your favorite music has more benefits than you realize. It’s also safe, cost-effective, and widely available.

Music is certainly not a magical cure, nor is it a substitute for therapy, medication, surgery, or any other medical treatments. But music can be an important element of your well-being and self-care on a daily basis, as well as a helpful partner in dealing with more acute health conditions.

Music listening, therapy, and interventions have many benefits like:

  • lowered stress and anxiety
  • better mood
  • reduced pain
  • improved sleep
  • sharpened focus or memory
  • relaxing your body and helping with meditation
  • assistance with speech or physical therapy
  • fostering community and a sense of togetherness

Research into music’s healing and stress-relieving properties is ongoing and sometimes with mixed results. But ultimately, perhaps the most important takeaway is: keep listening!

A selection of music to relieve stress and fatigue

In today's dynamic lifestyle, there is not enough time for rest, and even more so for relaxation. But this is a very important component of life, without which the body will get overworked and will not be able to work at full strength.

It is relaxation that helps restore vitality, relieve tension and fatigue that have accumulated during the working week. Music at the same time will increase the effect of a relaxing effect and reduce the required period of time to just a few minutes. nine0003

Many note that the rhythm of music and its direction significantly affect mood and state. Lyrical compositions have a calming effect, fast - cheer up and fill with emotions.

The therapeutic effect of music to relieve stress and fatigue is hard to overestimate. Some experts compare it to the effects of a sauna or massage. Especially classical works have a positive effect on the functioning of the cardiovascular system, calm the nerves, improve the psychological state of a person, and help overcome stress. nine0003

It has not yet been studied exactly how music helps against depression and stress, only one thing is clear: the emitted vibrations are combined with the body's own vibrations, while supplementing and changing them.

Here are some interesting facts:

  • Melody is an excellent motivator for the normal recovery of the body after stress. There are cases when, with the help of classical music alone, a person got rid of blues and depression.
  • Soothing music for stress can be different. For example, some people are positively influenced by opera singing, while others are influenced by rhythmic pop music. nine0016
  • Depressive states can lead to apathy, sleep disturbance, or even to a permanent aggressive state. In this case, it will be difficult to manage with music alone, but in combination with the necessary medicines, the method will be very effective.
  • When choosing a song, be guided by your own musical preferences. Someone will relax Beethoven, and someone - music for meditation.
  • Music therapy can be accompanied by dancing, which makes it possible to additionally throw out negative emotions. nine0016

Of course, different musical instruments affect people differently. Let's analyze the most basic examples:

  • String instruments. It is proved that they have a positive effect on the work of the heart and blood vessels. But, as for emotions, such sounds can oppress, make you empathize and feel guilty about something. To normalize the psychological state and get out of depression, such a melody is not suitable.
  • Wind instruments have a positive effect on the lungs, bronchi and the entire respiratory system in general. Such compositions really relax, relieve stress. It is better to choose a flute or saxophone for this purpose. nine0016
  • Percussion instruments have a positive effect on the functioning of the heart (especially if its rhythm is disturbed), as well as the liver and circulatory system. This melody is great for filling with energy and vitality.
  • Piano sounds calm the nervous system of a person, give him peace and harmony. It is the piano that is considered the ideal instrument of relaxing music to relieve stress, its melody flows smoothly, putting in order the thoughts and emotions that often take over. nine0016

The effect of stress on the body is very detrimental, but different styles of music can neutralize its effect. Let's figure out which direction to listen to is better:

  • The classical direction, written in the Baroque style, to which Bach and Vivaldi belong, is just perfect for work and action. It gives energy, a sense of composure and stability.
  • The style of romanticism, of which Tchaikovsky and Schubert are considered prominent representatives, will suit those who lack romantic relationships in real life. Such music gives a light playful mood. nine0016
  • Compositions written by the Impressionists - Debussy or Ravel - give impetus to the emergence of new ideas, plans for life.
  • I would like to single out the music of such famous people as Mozart and Haydn in a special category. Under it, new knowledge is perfectly assimilated, therefore it is suitable for students or students.
  • Pop direction, like African motifs, gives a feeling of self-confidence, a feeling of complete well-being.
  • But fate affects people of different temperaments in different ways. Some he fills with energy and desire to live, while others, on the contrary, oppresses. nine0016

When choosing methods of music therapy, be based not only on the described qualities, but also on your own feelings while listening to a particular composition. If the classic does not calm you down at all, but, on the contrary, annoys you, then you should not expect a positive effect.

Another factor to consider is the setting in which music therapy takes place. It should be a safe place where you feel as comfortable and secure as possible. You can relax both at home on the couch and on the green lawn. nine0003

It is important to relax as much as possible and disconnect from the outside world. If possible, lie down or just make yourself comfortable. It is better to close your eyes to abstract from the outside world.

When listening to a composition, you should not just relax, but pass it through yourself, allowing you to saturate you with strength and energy.

The treatment of stress with music is compared to hypnosis, because it penetrates into the inner world of any person, regardless of age, gender or state of health. Many people are very receptive to this particular area of ​​feelings, as certain compositions carry tender memories tied to a time or place. nine0003

The best music for relaxation is:

  • Sounds of nature. They are familiar to our brain, because they can even be used as music for sleep from stress.
  • Calm music for relaxation is selected in such a way as to calm the nervous system without straining it with new information.
  • Dynamic music for relaxation is designed to fill a person with the energy and strength that will be needed to achieve your goals.
  • The classic melody is suitable only for those who like it. If this direction is not to your liking, then positive changes will not happen. nine0016
  • Oriental motifs occupy a separate place. They also clear our consciousness, help the brain switch to a positive way. Some are invigorating, others are relaxing.
  • Music of famous performers. Many patients do not need soothing music in order to completely relax. They only need to listen to their favorite songs.

Listening to music can be combined with dancing, hiking, or drawing for example. The main thing is that you feel comfortable and calm. Literally a few such exercises, carried out daily, will help you restore your own moral and emotional strength, become calmer and more balanced, feel rested and full of energy. nine0003

NOT SHARD: LUGHT: Found a way to cope with the stress less calorie


Yaroslav Olieinikov / Alamy

British universities of Linollene and SPA carried out some stress, junk food and music . The study showed that people can reduce the number of calories they consume "on emotion" if they listen to certain songs first. nine0003

Each experiment involved 120 women. Previously, the scientists found out what kind of music they listen to when they are sad, stressed or want to be distracted.

Then the participants, who voluntarily agreed to be nervous, were forced to either indulge in unpleasant memories or solve annoying puzzles. At the same time, they were provided with such "quick snacks" as chips, popcorn, chocolate and other sweets.

The women were divided into two groups: the first was alone with their upsetting experiences and food, and the second also listened to music. When the participants were stress-eating, they played songs that matched their condition. nine0003

These were either soothing tracks or to help release anger or sadness. The authors of the study used songs such as "Back To Black" by Amy Winehouse , "Mockingbird" by Eminem and "In The End" by Linkin Park . Volunteers forced to freak out over anagrams that were notoriously impossible to solve included soothing hits: Coldplay's "Fix You" and Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down" .

When scientists analyzed the results of both groups, it turned out that the participants in the “musical” group ate half as many snacks when they recalled sad events and listened to music that helped to live these emotions. And those who were shaken by annoying charades took only 35% of the food after listening to the tunes. nine0003

The expert advises thinking about alternatives, such as music. “She can give you a boost and make you feel better when you’re sad or stressed in equal measure,” says Annemieke van den Tol.

More research is needed to find out exactly how music helps people eat less during times of stress. But the authors suggest that this is due to the release of hormones of the “reward system” of the brain - dopamine and serotonin .

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