Listening to music can work wonders in alleviating stress. It's important to note that everyone has different tastes in music, so it's essential to listen to the music that brings you comfort. Forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that you don't enjoy can potentially create stress rather than alleviate it.
Music possesses a remarkable ability to change moods and relieve stress, impacting us on multiple levels simultaneously.
Experts often suggest that it's the rhythm or beat of the music that has a calming effect on us, even if we're not consciously aware of it. They point out that as babies in our mother's womb, we might have been influenced by the heartbeat of our mothers. In later stages of life, we respond to soothing music, perhaps associating it with the safe, relaxing, and protective environment provided by our mothers.
Music can be an incredibly soothing or nerve-wracking experience. Selecting what works for an individual can be challenging, and most people choose music they 'like' rather than what might be most beneficial. Extensive research on the physiological responses to different music types revealed unexpected findings. Many so-called Meditation and Relaxation recordings were found to produce adverse EEG patterns, akin to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music. Surprisingly, selections such as Celtic, Native American, and various music featuring loud drums or flutes were extremely soothing. The most significant discovery was that any music played live, even at moderately loud volumes, had a remarkably beneficial response. The proper sounds resulted in remarkable right/left brain hemisphere synchronization. The typical voltage spiking pattern shifted to a smooth sinusoidal waveform, equalizing the voltage differential. Sounds significantly influence the entire human energetic system, with the physical body and chakra centers responding to specific tones and frequencies. Special attention should be given to the positive effects of individuals playing or creating music themselves.
One of the first changes that occur when we hear a tune that helps combat stress is an increase in deep breathing. The production of serotonin in the body also accelerates.
Music has been found to reduce pain during dental procedures.
Playing music in the background while working, even if we're not consciously aware of the music itself, has been found to reduce stress levels.
Music has been observed to lower heart rates and promote an increase in body temperature, indicating the onset of relaxation. Combining music with relaxation therapy was found to be more effective than using relaxation therapy alone.
Maximizing the Benefits of Music Therapy
As mentioned earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all music that suits everyone. People have different musical tastes, and it's essential to choose music that you genuinely enjoy.
The following are general guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of music therapy:
- To wash away stress, try a 20-minute "sound bath." Play some relaxing music on your stereo and lie in a comfortable position on a couch or on the floor near the speakers. For a more immersive experience, you can use headphones to focus your attention and avoid distractions.
- Opt for music with a slow rhythm, slower than the natural heartbeat, which is about 72 beats per minute. Music with repeating or cyclical patterns tends to be effective for most people.
- As the music plays, let it wash over you, cleansing the stress of the day. Concentrate on your breathing, allowing it to deepen, slow down, and become regular. Pay attention to the silence between the notes in the music, which prevents overanalysis and enhances relaxation.
- If you need stimulation after a long day of work, choose faster music rather than slow, calming tunes.
- When the going gets tough, opt for music you are familiar with, like childhood favorites or old classics. Familiarity often leads to a sense of calmness.
- Take walks while listening to your favorite music on a walkman. Breathe in and out in tune with the music, letting the music guide you. This combination of exercise (brisk walking), imagery, and music is an excellent stress reliever.
- Listening to the sounds of nature, such as ocean waves or the serenity of a deep forest, can reduce stress. If you're near the seashore or a quiet patch of woods, try taking a 15- to 20-minute walk. If that's not possible, you can purchase tapes of these sounds in many music stores.