You don’t have to be an expert or scientist to recognise that music can have a really soothing effect on people. We’ve all experimented with different types of music in moments of stress and anxiety and most of us still resort to the same trick in times of need. That’s because music can slow the pulse and heart rate, lower blood pressure and decrease the level of stress hormones. In other words, it relieves stress.
Truth be told, it can have a completely different effect as well, which is why it’s important to know exactly what kind of music works for you. We are all different and what works for one of us doesn’t have to do the trick for someone else. Still, it’s good to know what happens to us when we listen to music in order to relax.
When should we listen to music?
Most people like to listen to music when they feel they need a pick-up or when they already feel great and want to prolong that feeling. We’re going to focus on the first scenario: you’re down and depressed or simply overwhelmed. Try playing CDs in your car or listen to music while commuting to work. Use every opportunity, such as walking your dog, to listen to the kind of music that relaxes you. Remember that you can only be productive when you can manage your stress levels. If it helps, you can even sing along or shout, but make sure you’re alone when you do that, because you shouldn’t distract or annoy the people around you.
Some music is great for meditation, since it helps your mind slow down and initiates the relaxation response. Still, be careful what kind of music you choose, because you don’t want to listen to something you find irritating or unsettling. Instead, opt for gentle music with a familiar melody to relax. Also, be adventurous and give various types of music a chance. You never know what you may discover if you keep your mind open. If you can’t play the music on your stereo, use a portable device and top-quality headphones, such as the amazing Shure SE846, to get completely isolated from the environment.
What do scientists say?
There has been a lot of research into the phenomenon of stress. Scientists agree that our bodies respond to stress by releasing cortisol, which prepares our body for the stress ahead. In one experiment, they separated people into two groups. The first group listened to relaxing music while the other subjects were exposed to silence. After some time, people from both groups were asked to perform a task which commonly induces stress, such as giving a speech or doing complicated math in their heads. It was established that the cortisol levels were significantly lower in the group that had been exposed to soothing sounds before performing the task.
Music and you
If you want to feel less stressed about life and work, you should definitely try listening to music to relax and make sure you do it regularly, not just before a stressful event. The less unnecessary cortisol your body creates, the healthier you’ll be. Naturally, music alone can’t relieve all the stress and be the solution for every stress-related issue you may have, but it can definitely improve your mental and physical state. Just find the music that helps you feel more relaxed and you’ll do yourself a big favour.
Scientists will continue to investigate the relation between music and our overall health, especially stress we are exposed to. Until we find out more about exactly how music helps us cope with stress, we should simply accept that we feel better when listening to music and continue doing that.