“Research shows that listening to slow melodic music is most effective for the majority of people in relieving stress.”
The almost magical power of music to affect our state of mind has been known for centuries, but it is only relatively recently that this apparent common knowledge has been backed up by proven scientific studies in numerous fields of medical research.
Indeed, music has been shown to have a positive impact on both mind and body in as diverse fields as sports training recovery, surgery recovery, childhood learning ability, drug rehabilitation and of course, relaxing music to reduce stress.
Yes, music is perhaps audio’s equivalent to a wonder drug, being likened to a ‘mega vitamin for the brain’ as described by Frank Fitzpatrick, Founder of Earthtones.
One way just about everyone can benefit from music is to reduce the impact of stress on both your mental and physical health. In simple terms, music helps reduce stress by:
- Increasing positive or pleasure hormones (including endorphins) in your bloodstream
- Decreasing the production of stress hormones (including cortisol and adrenalin)
- Both through the impact on stress and pleasure hormones, and by impacting your bio-rhythm in a process called ‘entrainment’, music can slow your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure.
- It can stimulate alpha brainwaves, associated with a relaxed and conscious state of mind, or delta waves best for the onset of sleep.
The right tunes can help you get low blood pressure, according to researchers at the University of Florence in Italy. They asked 28 adults who were already taking hypertension medication to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes daily while breathing slowly. After a week, the listeners had lowered their average systolic reading by 3.2 points; a month later, readings were down 4.4 points.
HOW TO REDUCE STRESS WITH MUSIC?
Think about using music to relax, using music to maintain balance, and use music to generate stress-busting euphoria.
USING MUSIC TO RELAX
When it seems like the world around you is in chaos, a mental storm is raging inside your head and your stomach is like a balled fist, you can be sure you’re under stress. At peak stress, you’re body’s fight or flight responses are operating full tilt, and the best way to calm down is to work on reversing these stimuli.
Much research shows that listening to slow melodic music is most effective for the majority of people in relieving stress. The most frequently quoted genres for this are Classical, Celtic and Native American music.
That’s not to say your very own stored favorite playlist won’t have a positive impact – but try different genres until you find something that reliably calms you down. Here’s a great post with different music to try out as a stress-buster. And here’s another.
You also might like to try music that has been scientifically composed to relieve stress. This piece, by Marconi Union, dubbed as the “most relaxing tune ever” has been shown to reduce the effects of anxiety by up to 65%.
MUSIC AS A STATE OF BALANCE
Negative thoughts can re-inforce our conscious and subconscious anxiety levels, fuelling stress. Music can help re-wire our brains when combined with a focus on self-assuring thoughts and repetition of a positive
This is achieved by anchoring the positive emotion in our memory, and amplifying the effects when we need a bit of a boost – perhaps before an exam, a big meeting or even an uncomfortable conversation.
Like all ‘habits’, breaking the ‘negativity – stress’ loop takes both courage and consistency, so make sure you pick music that deeply resonates with you, and inspires positive emotion. Above all, repeat and listen every day.
Whilst many factors can cause stress, it is widely acknowledged that workplace stress has reached epidemic proportions. The pressure of getting our work done is ever present.
Various distractions interrupt our cognitive processes during more challenging tasks, constraining our productivity and creativity, causing stress to build quickly.
Here are three tips on how to use music to improve your productivity and avoid stress build up from overdue tasks:
When you’re doing repetitive tasks – even where those tasks are intricate and involve some dexterity – listening to music you know well, particularly background music without lyrics can help provide focus.
It is particularly important to avoid lyrical music when learning a new process or studying. This is because our ‘inner voice’ helps us record and process information, and lyrics can interrupt that flow, scrambling our thoughts and preventing coherent memories from forming.
When your work environment is noisy – listening to music can be a great way to cut down on distraction. Your brain is wired to tune into its surroundings, so background noise in effect provided cognitive noise, making it harder to take in and process information.
It also has the effect of increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so aside from helping you concentrate, listening to headphones can actually reduce the chemical stress stimulant at the same time.
- When you need to get creative. Music is known to produce several pleasure hormones, including dopamine and serotonin. These hormones relax you chemically at the same time as the acoustics stimulate alpha and theta waves, associated with concentration and creativity.
As a footnote – there is also a time where music will be detrimental to your productivity.
New lyrical music can cause you to focus on the unfolding story rather than on the task at hand, and music that really gets you going can end up taking you down a pleasure track that seems much more appealing that your tasks. Choose wisely.
USE MUSIC TO INDUCE STRESS-BUSTING EUPHORIA
Some days those pesky negative thoughts or feelings interrupt our focus. We’re not always on an up. Take control, find your favourite upbeat track and blast it before you leave home or listen while you commute to work or home again.
Loosing yourself listening to your favourite song jamming out from a pair of decent wireless headphones and not worrying for a moment is pure bliss. And don’t feel shy about singing out load – the extra air intake will also work wonders to get you pumping!
Whether you’re leveraging music to boost your productivity or to quell your fight & flight responses from peak stress, we recommend the more immersive experience that only over-ear headphones can provide.
We’ve designed our SoundWhiz SymphoniQ wireless headphones specifically for relaxation and recovery, with beautifully cushioned ear cups that provide excellent natural sound isolation without the need to distort music with active noise cancellation.