Can Music Actually Reduce Stress?

By | January 7, 2019

We all pretty much accept that music is food for the soul, but we rarely ponder on the meaning of this. This is a “fact” that we primarily intuit, but there is something to be said about the nearly magical nature of sonic harmony. When a situation becomes dire and days acquire all shades of blue, we often turn to music for soothing comfort. But if we feel the anxiety melting away, does that register on a biological level? Can music actually reduce stress?

Science Says Music Is Beneficial For Your Body

When it comes to the effects of music on your brain and your body, the scientific community has a lot of ground yet to cover, but if the scope of amassed research indicates anything, it is that music can be very beneficial for both psychological and physiological state of the listener. As soon as the song starts, it has a profound and distinct effect on numerous biological processes in our bodies. For example, it can completely change the “rhythm” of your pulse, it can alter blood sugar levels, respiratory rates and it can even hinder fatigue. 

Music Can Actually Make You Smarter

But what about brain activity? The harmonious patterns in music engage different parts of our brains, prompting us to memorize those melodies and lyrics and, if we are in a particularly good mood, shout them back at the speakers. Listening to ambient music can improve your creativity, but by composing your own music (which you can easily do these days by downloading apps and programs), you can improve the neuron connectivity and make yourself smarter! Such facts imply that music can be a great aid to cognitive processes when you are stressed. 

Music Makes You A Better Driver

Listening to music while you are driving keeps you alert during long trips and if you create a not-too-aggressive soundtrack that comprises of your favourite songs, you can get into the comfortable “flow” of reacting naturally and timely to the shifting circumstances in traffic. In fact, listening to a random greatest-hits station on your digital car radio from Strathfield Car Radios may be a better option than no music at all. Being surrounded with nothing but traffic sounds can make you jumpy and too self-aware, which can hinder your driving performance. 

Music Therapy Emerges

The fact that music has undeniable health-promoting benefits has led to the development of the ever-expanding field known as music therapy. While this form of creative arts therapy is still to be researched fully, it is a welcoming addition to the roster of complicated processes that are meant to aid in the recovery of patients. Proper melodies – especially classical music – are helpful to individuals that are recovering from surgery and those that are afflicted by psychological maladies. Even the audacious claim that Mozart can drive criminals away has merit. 

Therefore, it is only logical that music therapy can help you cope with anxiety and stress. If you are looking for a winning combination, you should know that it is often combined with progressive muscle-relaxation for the most impactful effect. While PMR is something that you practice on your own, you can combine music therapy with massage appointments. Try to arrange six long massages with healing music over the course of two months and see just how much your body, and indeed your mind, will be reinvigorated! In most cases, results fall into the “too good to be true” category.

Use Every Opportunity

Technology is a double-edged sword. While it is a cause of the stress epidemic in the 21st century, it also offers tools to effectively deal with this predicament. You can easily purchase a pair of relatively cheap quality earbuds and use every opportunity to overwhelm your body with soothing sounds. You can listen to music while you are cleaning the house, before bed, while you cook, eat and especially during a commute. It’s an “easy fix” for stress relief if you find a soundtrack that relaxes you. 

At the very least, music has the power to absorb us completely and transport us to another realm. It can act as a distraction from our daily woes but it can also do so much more than that. Photo by Umberto Cofini on Unsplash Contributed Content: Diana Smith

Nic Makim