“Music could ache and hurt, that beautiful music was a place a suffering man could hide.” – Pat Conroy
In all likelihood, your world is stuffed to the gills with deadlines, responsibilities, and anxiety. Knowing how to handle all of that in a healthy manner can be tricky; and these days, people try to manage their stress in a variety of ways—some good, others bad. From doing yoga to using substances, society is constantly searching for ways to deal with daily anxieties. But one stress relief remedy you might not have considered is music.
Below, we’ll cover 5 reasons why you should be playing music to reduce stress.
5 Reasons Why Music is The Best Stress Reliever
For centuries, people have used music as a salve to their soul; it’s a place of retreat, a haven of healing. It was and remains a therapy for relaxation whenever the chaotic world gets loud, concordant, and messy.
Currently, music is more accessible than ever and there is a genre of music or a song for just about any particular mood you might be in. Over the past decade, scientists have confirmed 5 stress relieving aspects of listening to music:
- Improves your mood – Some music is like comfort food. You put the vinyl on the record and within seconds, you’re smiling, nodding your head, and singing along. A 2012 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that listening to happy music while thinking positively for just 12 minutes a day could dramatically improve your mood. It’s similar to how the act of smiling tricks your brain into releasing “happy hormones.” Music, especially music that you love, achieves the same sleight of hand.
- Gives you a shoulder to cry on – Often, music and lyrics speak to sadness or depression better than any other artistic medium. Albums about heartbreak, loss, hurt and dejection touch a melancholic chord within a person’s soul that no therapist could ever reach. A Journal of Consumer Research paper discovered that people voluntarily selected sad music when they were feeling hurt or interpersonal loss. They concluded that the sad and relaxing music filled in that interpersonal gap and was like having an emphatic and understanding friend whose shoulder you could cry on.
- Decreases anxiety – Anxiety tends to derail our thought processes. That worry becomes all-consuming, impacting your ability to focus, sleep, or complete tasks. Often, you need to be able to take your mind of the issue that’s giving you that feeling and thus causing stress and anxiety. Few things are better suited for that stress relief than music, especially classical. A 2013 study on the Effects of Music on the Human Stress Response found “that music listening impacted the psychobiological stress system. Listening to music prior to a standardized stressor predominantly affected the autonomic nervous system (in terms of a faster recovery), and to a lesser degree the endocrine and psychological stress response.”
- Is cathartic – Music not only relieves the mental symptoms of stress but it can also have physical impacts for your health and well-being. When you’re wound up, odds are your heart rate and blood pressure are high. Soothing and calming music helps to alleviate that tension, causing your breathing and heart to slow, gradually normalizing your biological symptoms. On the other hand, the effects of music with a high RPM can help pump you up for a big game or high-stakes event. A paper on the Cardiovascular Effect of Musical Genres found that classical music by Mozart and Strauss decreased a subject’s blood pressure and heart rate, while faster pop music did not.
- Boosts productivity and creativity – One of the biggest causes of stress can be the pressures of work. However, that pressure is often tied in your ability to problem solve and complete tasks in a timely manner. Several studies have found that the benefits of music can help you accomplish both of those things. A Futurism article on the subject states:
“It’s shown that when you’re in that particular mood state, you take in more options, you don’t narrow your focus, and that is beneficial to creative problem solving… When you’re in that mood state, you’re better at problem solving and thinking creatively. So not only can music help with productivity, it can make you more creative at work.”
Music Is Your Tool
There’s something calming and therapeutic about the simple act of removing a vinyl from its slip, placing it on the record player, sitting back, closing your eyes, and soaking it all in to relax your mind. Heck, even turning on a bluetooth radio at work when the mood is tense can totally turn around a stressful work day!
Few things are as powerful and healthy a de-stressor as your favorite album or an artist who knows exactly what type of pain, hurt, or loss you’re going through.
A song can provide answers. It can give you solace.
Don’t let your stress overwhelm you. Throw on a record, let the music play, and allow your body and mind to relax.
Ferguson, Y. Taylor and Francis Online. Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies. (2012). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2012.747000
Lee, C. JSTOR. Interpersonal Relationships and Preferences for Mood-Congruency in Aesthetic Experiences. (2013). https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670609?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Thorma, M. NCBI. The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response. (2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734071/
Trappe, HJ. NCBI. The Cardiovascular Effect of Musical Genres. (2016). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4906829/
Benson, T. Futurism. You Listen to Music At Work, and It Alters Your Mind. Yes, Seriously. (2018). https://futurism.com/affiliate-listening-music-work-alters-mind