Have you ever noticed how fast your heart beats when you’re stressed?
Before an exam or an important interview the “dum-dum-dum” in your chest can be overwhelming.
But instead of being stressed by your beating heart, turn up the beat!
When stress strikes, listening to the right music can trigger a flood of positive emotions.
In fact, pumping up your tracks might have more health benefits than you know.
Keep reading to learn how music can literally turn your frown upside-down!
What Is Stress?
Stress is a change in your environment that creates physical or emotional discomfort. (1)
Short-term stress is okay, but chronic stress, on the other hand, can have a significant impact on your general well-being.
It’s important to know the signs of chronic stress so you can find your way back to happiness.
Next, let’s take a look at the common signs of chronic stress…
The Most Common Signs of Chronic Stress
Frequent exposure to stress can take a toll on your body and mind.
Here are some common signs of chronic stress: (2)
- Mood swings
- Sweaty palms
- Reduced sex desire
- Sleeping problems
- Digestive issues
- Chronic illness
- Teeth grinding
- Lack of energy
- Tension in the muscles, particularly in the neck and shoulders
- Aches and pains in the body
What Causes Stress?
There are numerous factors in life that might make you feel stressed.
Work, money, relationships, parenthood, and day-to-day hassles are all key players when it comes to stress. (3)
Stress can activate the body’s fight-or-flight response in reaction to a perceived threat or danger. (4)
Certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, are produced during the stress response.
In brief spurts, stress is good because it increases heart rate and provides a burst of energy.
When the stressful moment is over, healthy people relax and go back to normal hormone production.
However, in people with chronic stress, the relaxation response is slow and they get stuck in a stressful state.
But what if your favorite songs could flip the script on stress?
How Music Communicates with Your BrainList
The average person worldwide listens to 18 hours of music a week. (7)
When they do, vibrations carry music sounds via our ears like little transporters.
These vibrations are converted into electrical impulses by the inner ear.
Then, neurons in the brain send these impulses to the cerebral cortex. (8)
Dedicated brain areas detect the tone, pitch, and rhythm.
And lastly, the brain combines all the information to give you a musical experience.
The Power of Music to Reduce Stress
Your favorite music can energize you before a big event, calm you down when you’re sad, and everything in between.
It’s like music is the drug everyone needs!
But is there a scientific explanation for this? As it turns out, yes there is!
Music has long been studied for its capacity to both amuse and cure people. (5)
According to recent studies, music has the ability to decrease stress and anxiety, relieve pain, and increase attention.
Let’s take a closer look!
Here’s What the Science Has to Say
Music has had enormous success as a stress-relieving technique throughout history.
While some forms of music, such as classical and ambient, have long been researched for their soothing effects, listening to your particular favorite music of any genre offers its own set of advantages.
According to a 2020 review of music and stress studies, listening to music can: (6)
- Lower cortisol
- Reduce heart rate
- Boost endorphins
- Increase feelings of well-being
- Reduce physical and emotional stress levels
Music has a powerful impact on both the emotions and the body.
Faster music might help you concentrate and feel more awake.
Upbeat music may boost your mood and help you feel more enthusiastic about life.
A slower speed may calm your thoughts and relax your muscles, making you feel comforted and relieved of the day’s tension.
The bottom line is, music can for sure help you relax and manage your stress.
5 Ways to Use Music to Reduce Stress
1. Music Therapy
Music therapy is not the same as simply listening to music.
Like other types of therapists, musical therapists arrange personalized sessions to help you achieve your goals.
One recent study evaluated the benefits of music therapy with a therapist vs. self-administered music therapy on cancer patients. (9)
Despite the fact that all music listening produced good benefits, 77% of patients preferred music therapy sessions over simply listening to music on their own. (10)
2. Music to Relieve Pain
Music as a painkiller, no way!
According to the research, music can relieve both chronic pain and post-operative pain. (11)
For example, listening to “self-selected, enjoyable, and familiar music” may decrease pain in people with fibromyalgia. (12)
In the surgery room, listening to music through headphones while under anesthesia can lower cortisol levels and reduce post-op pain and tension.
Researchers believe that music may work by directing brain activity away from pain-related connection patterns. (13)
Basically, music is a shield against arrows of pain!
3. Music to Focus
Have you ever searched for “Study Playlists” or “Deep Focus Music” on Spotify or YouTube?
As it turns out, there’s a reason why millions of people listen to these playlists every day!
The right music can actually increase your focus and short-term recall, especially when the task is more complicated.
4. Music to Reduce Anxiety
Stress, anxiety, and pain like to happen together.
Fortunately, music might be able to control these little monsters.
According to recent studies, music can reduce anxiety before and during medical procedures. (14)
It even works with little kids!
5. Music to Stay Grounded
Grounding, also known as earthing, is a therapeutic approach where you perform activities that “ground” or electrically link you to the earth. (15)
Grounding allows you to distance yourself from flashbacks, undesirable memories, and negative or difficult feelings. (16)
And that’s where the music comes in…
Play your favorite music as though you’re hearing it for the first time, concentrate on the melody, and let the sounds connect you to all your bodily sensations!
Which Type of Music Reduces Stress the Best?
Rain, thunder, and natural noises are generally calming, especially when combined with other music styles such as light jazz and classical music.
Surprisingly, Native American, Celtic, and Indian stringed instruments, drums, and flutes are also quite calming. (17)
Ultimately, finding the right music to reduce stress depends a lot on personal taste.
Some tunes might calm you, while others might not.
When you’re in a bad mood you might find rap music to be uplifting and motivational.
At other times, however, rap might feel too harsh and aggressive.
Experiment with different types of music, mix-and-match with your different moods, and find out what works for you.
How to Use Music to Reduce Stress
Do you find it hard to fit stress relief techniques into your busy schedule?
Try listening to music when you’re
- Getting ready in the morning
- Right before bed
In the end, don’t let stress get the better of you!
If you have any more questions about music to reduce stress, feel free to reach out to us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.