How Music Can Cut back Stress & Regulate Moods –
In the modern world, we often find ourselves in situations where stress can take control of our minds and bodies, affecting our mood, wellbeing, and interactions with others. Whether you lead a relatively relaxed, stress-free lifestyle or find that stress is negatively affecting your daily life, we will all arrive at a moment in our lives where we need to learn how to understand and deal with stress.
There have been numerous studies of the effects listening to music can have on both stress and mood. This research has generally supported the incredibly positive change that can be achieved when listening to music is incorporated into various everyday activities as well as some challenging unusual tasks.
Which genre should I listen to?
Of course, not all music genres have the same emotional impact on individual listeners. Factors such as the preference for musical genres and the current mood of the listener influence the reception of music. However, it has been suggested that even if you don’t particularly like the music you’re listening to, the stress can still be reduced. For example, you might not be the biggest fan of heavy metal, but listening in a stressful situation can still help relieve your general stress levels.
Jazz and classical music are said to be most effective across the board at reducing stress, improving mood, and even improving brain function. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released in the body to help deal with a stressful situation. For example, in history, it was more likely that stress was caused by running away from a predator. This stress hormone tells the body to send more energy to your muscles so that you can run away faster. We don’t run away from predators too often in this day and age, but the same theory still applies. Research has shown that classical music can be effective in lowering levels of stress hormones such as cortisone and cortisol. You might also be happy to know that classical music is not the only thing that can have a positive effect on your sleep. “Weightless” by Marconi Union is considered to be one of the most relaxing songs ever created.
How does it work?
There are many possible reasons listening to music can help reduce stress and improve mood. Perhaps the most obvious is its ability to drown out irritating noises, distractions, or negativity in the environment. Simply putting on headphones and pressing the play button will help you focus and avoid being distracted by conversations around you, for example.
Have you ever felt like you have to drive fast while listening to fast-paced music in the car? This is a prime example of how music can evoke certain emotions and reactions in the human body. With an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, fast music of 120-130 beats per minute can increase anxiety. Now let’s think about the opposite scenario … Low tempo music of around 50-60 beats per minute on its own can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Low-tempo music, which includes gently rounded melodies along with elements of nature like rain, birds, or waves, can have even more impact and help slow breathing and reduce the release of these dreaded stress hormones.
How does music help during meditation?
Turning off the distractions around you and focusing on your breathing can be a challenge when you might find yourself in a noisy or busy environment. Listening to music during meditation can help you shut out those irritating distractions. When listening to music during meditation, many find that the endless chatter that normally takes place in the brain subsides and thoughtlessness can be achieved, which in turn brings you closer to the meditative state you want to achieve. While music can be an incredible aid to all levels, it can be especially helpful to those who are new to meditation and need extra help trying to focus.
As we said earlier, you should find your own preference when it comes to meditation music. However, there are of course some commonly used types of music for meditation, such as instrumental tracks, singing, and ambient sounds, including rain and waterfall sounds. If you are new to meditation you may find yourself thinking too much about the music. You should try to focus on the feelings in your body that the music is causing, rather than the music itself.
According to Google Trends, the number of people looking for meditation music has rightly increased significantly since the early 2000s. With a combination of advanced educational resources on the benefits of meditation and pretty much every music you could ever want online, sites like Youtube have become great platforms for sourcing the perfect meditation playlist.
How else can music help me?
Although stress reduction has been the focus of much study and research in recent years, there are other benefits music can have for both your body and your mind.
Improves the exercise – It has been proven that listening to music while exercising can incredibly improve not only mental but also physical stimulation. This in turn increases the overall performance. Music has also proven to be a great motivator for aerobic exercise.
Relieves pain and promotes healing – Similar to meditation, listening to music can be a great tool when it comes to injury or recovery from surgery. Numerous studies have shown that patients who included music in their care regimen experienced less pain and had a more positive recovery process.
Improves memory – Listening to music has proven to be an incredibly effective way of preventing memory loss as well as a tool for retrieving lost memories. The melody and rhythm in music can help our brains create patterns that, in turn, improve memory and the retention of memories.
Enhanced intimacy and relationships – In conjunction with meditation, listening to music can not only improve relationships with friends, families, colleagues and partners, but also improve intimacy. Music and meditation together can help you understand, identify and deal with emotions that you are struggling with.
Improves eating habits – It may be surprising to know that listening to music and meditation can actually have a positive effect on eating habits. It is common knowledge that emotions such as sadness and conditions such as depression can lead to overeating or eating comfortably. Meditation and music can help you manage these emotions without the help of food. Music can also help you relax while you eat, lower your heart rate, and therefore the speed at which you eat. This will likely fill you up faster and therefore eat less.
Improves sleep – The parasympathetic nervous system affects how you relax and prepare for sleep. Studies have shown that this system is positively influenced and promotes more restful and consistent sleep in people who listen to relaxing music for around 40-45 minutes before going to bed. The effectiveness of this theory really depends on the type of music you are listening to.
In summary, regardless of activity or goal, music can have an incredibly positive impact on our lives if used properly. For more information, see 15 Incredible Ways Music Affects Our Lives and Brains