Music and Stress Reduction

Listen to your favorite music and stress takes a backseat.

Did you know that music has the ability to lower high blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and physiological factors associated with anxiety and depression?

For example:

  • Hospitals have used music to relieve pain and improve patient's mood,
  • dental surgerys have used music to reduce anxiety, and
  • nursing homes ahve used music to improve social and cognitive function.

Music has the potential to settle you down when you are stressed and uplift you when you are depressed.

It has the ability to move to spaces within us that are beyond our stress, anxiety, and daily worries.

After a hard day's work unwind with some relaxing music.

Put on Mozart's Piano Concerto in C Minor and let it take you to the snowy Salzburg, or let some soft ballads sooth and relax you.

Music can be a delightful mini-vacation from your hectic and unrelenting stress.

Music and stress relief: What music to select?

While I like Jim Wilson's Northern Seascapes as music for relaxation and stress relief, what is important in the relationship between music and stress is that you like the music.

Study after study has found that different people find different music relaxing because we often attach different emotions to the music.

So what is important is that you choose music that is relaxing to you.

But here are some tips on music and stress reduction:

  • Choose music that is roughly 60-80 beats per second (this is roughly the same as your heart beat). Faster beats may create tension.
  • Choose low pitch music. Generally this low pitch music is better for relaxation as high pitch may cause increased tension.
  • Choose orchestral as this music tends to be better than music with lyrics.

    This is because music is fundamentally a right brain activity and language a left brain activity.

    People may focus on the lyrics and their meanings rather than relaxing with the music (Cassleth, 1999).

Can I use music and stress management techniques together?

Music can also be a helpful in combination with various relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.

For example in a study conducted by Rider and colleagues in 1985, when progressive muscle relaxation script was dubbed over orchestral music, there were significant decreases in cortisol (a stress hormone) compared to the no music condition.

Music has also been show to reduce muscle tension when combined with biofeedback, compared to biofeedback alone.

Other stress management techniques

There are a number of warning signs of stress which can be reduced through stress management techniques.

Some of these include:

  • mindfulness based stress reduction that enhances your awareness of the present and provides mindfulness exercises that relieve stress
  • shifting your perspective and developing a positive mental attitude. By making lemonade out of lemons you have the potential to reduce stress significantly
  • getting on top of your time management and organization. Here are five time management techniques to reduce stress through planning and prioritizing your tasks
  • developing a solution focused approach to solving problems. This structured problem solving technique helps identify ways to manage stressful situation.
  • using a fun stress management activity to combat stress and relax the mind and body.

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