The power of music to reduce stress


The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our
emotions, so can be an extremely effective stress management tool.
Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our
minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music
can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the
pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels
of stress hormones.
As music can absorb our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same
time it helps to explore emotions. This means it can be a great aid to meditation,
helping to prevent the mind wandering.
Musical preference varies widely between individuals, so only you can
decide what you like and what is suitable for each mood. But even if you
don't usually listen to classical music it may be worth giving it a try when
selecting the most calming music.
When people are very stressed, there is a tendency to avoid actively
listening to music. Perhaps it feels like a waste of time, not helping to
achieve anything. But as we know, productivity increases when stress is
reduced, so this is another area where you can gain vast rewards. It just
takes a small effort to begin with.
To incorporate music into a busy life, try playing CDs in the car, or put
the radio on when in the bath or shower. Take portable music with you
when walking the dog, or put the stereo on instead of the TV.
Singing (or shouting) along can also be a great release of tension,
and karaoke is very enjoyable for some extroverts! Calming music
before bedtime promotes peace and relaxation and helps to induce
Research on Music
Music has been used for hundreds of years to treat illnesses
and restore harmony between mind and body. But
recently, scientific studies have attempted to measure the
potential benefits of music. They have found:
 Music's form and structure can bring order and
security to disabled and distressed children. It encourages
coordination and communication, so improves
their quality of life.
 Listening to music on headphones reduces stress
and anxiety in hospital patients before and after
 Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress
of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
 Listening to music can relieve depression and increase
self-esteem ratings in elderly people.
 Making music can reduce burnout
and improve mood among
nursing students.
 Music therapy significantly reduces emotional distress and boosts
quality of life among adult cancer patients.
Certain music is appropriate for meditation as it can help the mind slow
down and initiate the relaxation response. However, not all peaceful or
"New Age" music works for everyone. Music with no structure can be irritating
or even unsettling. Gentle music with a familiar melody more often
is comfor