How Music Can Help Reduce Anxiety and Stress

In today’s fast-paced world, anxiety and stress have become all too familiar companions for many of us. The pressure of work, relationships, and the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life can leave us feeling mentally exhausted. Luckily, there is one powerful tool that is scientifically proven to soothe our troubled minds and uplift our spirits: Music. Think of times when you danced with your friends to favorite tunes or listened to a song that healed you during a heartbreak. Music gives you that much-needed escape from the chaos of life.  

If you are feeling stressed, grab those headphones and embark on a melodious journey towards peace and tranquility. Or better yet, listen to the Anxiety Calming playlist that your friends at Hill Physicians curated just for you…   

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So, how exactly do we benefit from music? Listening to music decreases psychobiological stress response. Research shows that music at around 60 beats per minute causes the production of alpha brainwaves. These brainwaves cause the brain to synchronize with the beat of the song and are present when we are conscious and relaxed. Songs that operate at 432 Hertz tend to be the most soothing because it is the closest to the natural human frequency. Overall, music can decrease your blood pressure, lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and reduce your heart rate.  

What type of music reduces stress the best? Studies have shown that listening to classical music can improve your quality of sleep, decrease signs of depression, and help students focus better when studying. A Russian study published in Human Physiology found that children who listened to classical music for one hour a day over a six-month period revealed brain changes with higher levels of relaxation. Who knew Beethoven and Mozart would be a part of your healing journey? Nature sounds and Ambient music are also excellent for reducing anxiety. The sound of gentle rain, flowing water, and soft wind with chirping birds can create a serene atmosphere. In addition, Native American, Celtic, Indian-stringed drums, and light jazz are proven to be relaxing and can help you wind down after experiencing high stress.  

Can music help you sleep? Absolutely. Studies found that calming tunes can assist those who struggle with Insomnia. Sleep is an important driver of mental health, productivity, metabolism, and more, so getting the right amount is vital to one’s health. The authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society noted that adults aged 60 and up appear to sleep better when listening to music for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.

Ever tried a sound bath? A sound bath is a meditative experience where participants are immersed in deep sound vibrations. The facilitator plays sound bowls or other instruments (such as gongs and chimes) in very intentional ways to help participants decompress. Sound baths can be very therapeutic as the goal is to induce a state of deep relaxation. R&B singers like Jhene Aiko have incorporated these relaxing sounds into their music.  

Music as a Post-Op Panacea Researchers found that music can reduce patients’ anxiety and postoperative pain. This discovery is particularly promising for heart surgeons who carry out highly invasive procedures like open-heart surgery. Patients who listened to music for up to 8 days experienced a significant reduction in anxiety and pain after major heart surgery. This sheds light on the therapeutic potential of music as an intervention in promoting post-operative wellbeing. 

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