Trust Your Musical Intuition
If you’ve ever listened to music and were moved to tears or motivated to run an extra mile because of it, you already understand that music can have an extreme impact on emotions. When intended, music can provide comfort during difficult times and also promote relaxation. You might be thinking that music is more complicated than you originally thought. It is! Although there is much to consider when using music therapeutically, humans have a particular knack for choosing music that soothes and heals them, without having to think too much about the technical aspects. Trust the way you feel, and if you think you might need more assistance with this process, consult a board-certified music therapist.
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The Best Types Of Music And Sounds For Relaxation
Some research points to the following types of music and sounds as being effective stress reducers:
- Light jazz and classical music
- Native American, Celtic and Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes
- Rain, wind, and other nature sounds
Neuroscientists in the United Kingdom conducted a study that had participants connected to sensors try to quickly solve difficult, stress-inducing puzzles as they listened to different songs. The researchers measured brain activity and physiological states such as heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing.
The participants overall anxiety dropped by 65 percent as they listened to one particular song: Weightless by Marconi Union. As it turns out, the song was created in collaboration with sound therapists who carefully arranged the harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines to help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and lower the stress-hormone cortisol.
Will the song Weightlessor light jazz, Native American drumming, or rain and thunder soundssignificantly drop your anxiety levels? Thats for you to figure out. If youre feeling angry, you might find you need a few minutes with the heavily distorted guitars and aggressive, deep-growling vocals of death metal to work through your emotions so you can then feel a sense of release and relaxation afterward. Youre the expert on what types of music and sounds reduce stress or evoke relaxation in you. Try out different songs and sounds to see what resonates.
Limits Of Music As A Mood Booster
Matching music to your current mood can feel validating, but it can also keep you stuck in a negative emotional state â if you let it.
You can still listen to a sad song when youâre upset or let out your anger to some heavy metal. Just be mindful of where itâs taking you and shift into something different if you feel yourself getting stuck.
Itâs also important to consider that while music can be a powerful tool for regulating and shifting your emotions, it’s not a substitute for mental health treatment. If you have distressing emotional experiences that interfere with your ability to function, consider talking to a licensed mental health professional.
Frontiers in Psychology: âMusic Use for Mood Regulation: Self-Awareness and Conscious Listening Choices in Young People With Tendencies to Depression.â
Harvard Health Publishing: âMusic and health.â
HealthyPeople 2020: âMusic Therapy for Depression.â
Journal of Advanced Nursing: âMusic improves sleep quality in students.â
The Journal of Positive Psychology: âTrying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies.â
National Alliance on Mental Illness: âThe Impact of Music Therapy on Mental Health.â
Psychology of Music: âMusic for anxiety? Meta-analysis of anxiety reduction in non-clinical samples.â
University of Nevada, Reno: âReleasing stress through the power of music.â
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Which Sounds Are The Most Relaxing
Not all music is equal when it comes to being soothing. Slow, gentle sounds do the best job of lowering our feelings of anxiety and stress. Classical, Native American, Celtic, and Indian tunes are known to help with relaxation, and the most calming instruments tend to be piano, strings, drums, and flutes.
Instrumental music is not the only type that helps the brain and body relax, though. Sounds from nature, such as thunderstorms, rain, and the sound of a bubbling brook, all help reduce stress. In a one scientific abstract found that the sound of rippling water was equally preferred and perceived as relaxing as music by participants.
Why is this?
It could be that our brains seek to connect with nature, so we intuitively find comfort in natural environments over urban ones. Does this mean relaxing music is less effective for calming than running water? That might be a personal choice. Try putting them together! Nature sounds paired with soothing music can be very powerful for relaxation.
Certain Music Can Help With Sleep
Losing sleep is a common problem for those who suffer from stress.
Music can help with generating sleep as it can have an impact on physical, psychological and emotional states which contribute to the success of sleep. When you are too alert or excited before bed, it becomes a lot more difficult to shift into a sleep state.
Listening to soothing music is a great way to help you wind down and relax before slumber. Sleep quality can also be boosted as wake up times during the night become less. You will wake up feeling much more refreshed in the morning as your body remains calm throughout the night.
Relaxing music can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Your journey towards sleep is improved as your heart rate can be lowered and breathing slowed down.
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Selection Of Music Stimulus
Standardized music stimuli, selected by the researchers, might have different effects than those chosen by the participants themselves. In our study, however, we used a music stimulus which had already been evaluated as relaxing in previous research , so we were confident that this stimulus had stress-attenuating capacity independent of individual preferences. Also, using researcher-selected music stimuli has been shown to have greater effects on stress reduction than music stimuli selected by the subjects themselves .
Music As A Grounding Tool
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, its 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.
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Music Can Influence Your Mood
It wont be a surprise to most that music can affect the human brain emotionally. We all have that one song that brings us to tears, at the same time as having a song that really pumps you up and gets you going again.
Music can have a massive effect on emotions, and thats one of the reasons why composers add music to films they want you to feel sad, happy, angry or scared at exactly the right time. Youve probably chosen music yourself to evoke a particular reaction in your brain, just like when gym-goers put on a motivational playlist full of energy to get them through a workout.
All of this is, of course, backed by research that shows that music can affect our emotions in different ways. Happy, upbeat music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which evokes feelings of joy, whereas calming music relaxes the mind and the body. The research also showed though, that whilst music can influence our mood, our mood can also influence the music that we choose to listen to that really explains Adeles success with writing fantastically powerful break-up songs.
Consider Music Without Lyrics
Song lyrics leave a little less up to the imagination because someone else’s story is being told. When lyrics are included in a piece of music, more of our brains are used to process these lyrics. They might also stimulate more memories. If you are using music for the purpose of trying to relax, you want to allow your mind to wander without consciously focusing on the music. This is more challenging when lyrics are involved. Consider choosing instrumental music or a song where the lyrics reflect the way you are feeling.
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How Music Helps Students
As the pandemic continues to loom over our lives, college and university students struggle with immense pressure and stress to manage their own times according to the online lectures, and the burden of teaching themselves content can be frustrating and demotivating. Some have to worry about jobs and stress about not being able to find a job during these times to be able to finance their education. This new reality for most of us can be overwhelming and sometimes feel like its not attainable. College and university students are also more prone and susceptible to anxiety, depression, and relationship problems which can affect their overall quality of life, their quality of work and motivation to do well in school. Music has been proven to be a healthy form of stress relief and many students have found it helps with concentration and motivation.
Many college students, including myself, find that listening to classical music is a great tool for concentration while studying and keeps you from being easily distracted. I also find that sometimes taking a five-minute break to play really loud music and dance and sing to yourself aggressively can release tension and help you feel more centered when returning to your work.
Music Can Reduce Your Stress Levels
Music really is one of the best stressbusters out there. The soothing power of relaxing music and its close link to our emotions can be a really effective stress management tool, helping us cool down and maybe even take a breather. It can be a great way to distract yourself from a stressful situation, while also clearing the mind before readdressing the issue with a fresh outlook.
Listening to music has the potential to relax our minds as well as our bodies. In fact, research has shown that even heavy metal music can help lower your blood pressure. And with high blood pressure both a cause and symptom of stress, this shows that even the most intense music can help you cope with stress.
Its not only your blood pressure that listening to music can lower, but also your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the human stress hormone, and the higher it is, the more stressed we feel. Research has found that symphonic music can lower cortisol levels, regardless of the listeners music preferences. So, if youre feeling a little stressed, why not listen to some Beethoven? It might not be your cup of tea, but its proven to help you out.
Music affects the body in a whole host of different ways, and listening to music on a daily basis could really help promote your overall health and wellbeing.
Whether youre into the Beatles, Beethoven or Boyzone, it might be worth popping on your favourite playlist while youre at work too, to help manage your stress levels and boost your motivation.
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Quotes That Music Heals Your Body Mind And Soul
Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch.
Music brings us pleasure and releases our suffering. It can calm us down and pump us up. It helps us manage pain, run faster, sleep better and be more productive.
Alex Doman, Entrepreneur & music producer
Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering.
Haruki Murakami, Japanese author
Music is a great healer. Begin and end your day with music.
Lailah Gifty Akita
My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.
Listening to music has a positive impact on our health, by helping us recover faster when we experience stress and through the reduction of stress hormone cortisol, to help us achieve a calm state or homeostasis.
Alex Doman, Entrepreneur & music producer
Music has the power to heal, transform and inspire and we have the power through deep listening to increase our intuition and self awareness.
Andre Feriante, Award Winning Guitarist
Music is one of the longest standing self prescribed therapy in history.
Erin seibert, Music therapist
If everyone started off the day singing, just think how happy theyd be.
Lauren Myracle, Shine
He who sings scares away his woes.
Thats what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.
Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.
Quotes On How Music Has The Power To Bring People Together
Music is the universal language of mankind.
Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.
Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing.
Music with all its subtlety has immense power to unite people, spread love and bring peace in the world!
Music binds us in a way that language rarely does.
When we sing together in harmony, our hearts start beating together.
Tania De Jong
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Relaxation Is Maximized With Music
Stress can be reduced and relaxation maximized with the use of music, particularly when it is classical music. This slow and quiet genre has an effect on physiological functions as the pulse and heart rate are slowed down.
Blood pressure can also be decreased along with stress hormones when listening to classical music. This makes for a relaxing experience and a great way to manage the common stresses that pop up in our lives.
Music is also known to have a deep effect on our emotions. Slower tempos can help to silence the mind and relax muscles, making music an effective stress management tool.
Music To Reduce Anxiety
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. Musics ability to decrease biological stress responses like heart rate and cortisol levels also helps tackle anxiety.
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Find Music That Speaks To You
A friend of mine once said, “Music is the ultimate form of empathy.” As humans, we are constantly striving to be understood. This could explain why we tend to enjoy music that we find relatable or music that speaks to us in some way. Songs can validate our feelings and actually provide comfort when they match our mood. For instance, listening to sad music actually causes our brains to produce the same neurochemical that is released when we cry. This chemical, prolactin, helps to elicit feelings of comfort, meaning that listening to a sad song when we are feeling down not only provides empathy, it is causing our brains to start to try to make us feel better!1
What Are You Listening To At The Moment Any Playlist Suggestions
One of my favourite finds of the last few years has been a Texas band called Balmorhea – perfect chill music for any occasion. Check out their album Clear Language. Weve been having some fun with Spotify playlists at Indigo – check out Music to Quit Your Job To for some pump-up music or Keep Sydney Cosy for some acoustic tracks that work anywhere, anytime.
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Do You Have A Simple Tip For Better Harnessing Sound In Everyday Life
A very simple one – change your alarm! For most people, their morning phone alarms trigger a physiological response – i.e. you actually wake up on the defensive as the alarm releases an excess of cortisol. Starting the day with a shot of anxiety is not ideal. The best alarms are ones that start soft and slowly build using gentle tones.
A good place to start is the iPhone Bedtime App, Nightstand Central Alarm Clock, or even try purchasing from the New Alarm Clock album in iTunes. For a few dollars you can change the way you feel every morning.
An Effective Stress Reliever
When feeling stressed, you may find listening to your favorite music makes you feel better and there are numerous studies that support this effect.
A study reported by MNT last month, for example, found that infants remained calmer for longer when they were played music rather than spoken to even when speech involved baby talk.
The study researchers, including Prof. Isabelle Peretz of the Center for Research on Brain, Music and Language at the University of Montreal in Canada, suggested the repetitive pattern of the music the infants listened to reduced distress, possibly by promoting entrainment the ability of the bodys internal rhythms to synchronize with external rhythms, pulses or beats.
Another study conducted in 2013 found that not only did listening to music help reduce pain and anxiety for children at the UKs Great Ormond Street Hospital, it helped reduce stress independent of social factors.
According to some researchers, music may help alleviate stress by lowering the bodys cortisol levels the hormone released in response to stress.
The review by Dr. Levitin and colleagues, however, suggests this stress-relieving effect is dependent on what type of music one listens to, with relaxing music found most likely to lower cortisol levels.
Musics effect on heart rate and its potential as a stress reliever has led a number of researchers to believe music may also be effective for treating heart conditions.
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