Music therapy is one of the coping mechanisms for many. From the production, lyrics and total impact of a sound can really change a certain individual’s mood. For others, it’s their outlet and source of meditation.
Also, music is one of the piece-of-cake ways to take a break from the chaotic world. It’s so simple. All you have to do is to get your phone and browse your favorite sound that fits your interest and mood then viola! A magic from music can certainly change your mood.
Even if you just give yourself 5 minutes a day to sit down and listen to one relaxing song and focus on your breathing, you will be ahead of the game. And, the more often you indulge yourself to music time, the quicker you will see results and the more likely you are to continue creating more room for self-care and relaxation.
In a study done at Beth Israel Medical Center’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine researchers wanted to see what effect music had on premature babies. Sound therapy doesn’t just apply to adults. It applies to children and babies, even premature babies, as well.
Their participants included 272 premature babies who were all 32 weeks gestation or older, located in 11 mid-Atlantic NICUs. During the study, they looked at the effects of three types of music:
a lullaby selected and sung by the baby’s parents
an “ocean disc” (which is a round instrument, invented by the Remo drum company, that mimics the sounds of the womb)
a gato box (which is a drum-like instrument used to simulate two-tone heartbeat rhythms)
The two instruments used in the test were played live by certified music therapists. These therapists matched their music to the babies’ breathing and heart rhythms.
The researchers found that the gato box, the Remo ocean disc and singing all slowed a baby’s heart rate, although singing was the most effective. Singing also increased the amount of time babies stayed quietly alert, and sucking behavior improved most with the gato box, while the ocean disc enhanced sleep. The music therapy also lowered the parents’ stress, says Joanne Loewy, the study’s lead author, director of the Armstrong center and co-editor of the journal Music and Medicine.
“There’s just something about music — particularly live music — that excites and activates the body,” says Loewy, whose work is part of a growing movement of music therapists and psychologists who are investigating the use of music in medicine to help patients dealing with pain, depression and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. “Music very much has a way of enhancing the quality of life and can, in addition, promote recovery.”
There has been a lot of research done on the effects of music and anxiety for children and adults. And now, we have even more recent science which has given us a playlist of the top 10 songs for reducing anxiety.
Music therapy has long been used to help manage stress, anxiety, and uneasiness, and it has been proven to:
- Slow your pulse and heart rate
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce levels of stress hormones
- Relieve depression
- Reduce chronic pain
But, our bodies are not designed to handle chronic stress, which is where most people operate at (including me for the last two decades of my life). According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic, unmanaged stress can exacerbate current health issues and increase the risk of things like:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
A group work of neuroscientists in the UK has found out that specific sounds give us the biggest impact on reducing anxiety. The study was conducted by Mindlab International as a way to research the impact of certain sounds on stress.
According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International there was one song that generated a greater sense of relaxation than any other songs or sounds tested up until this point.
“participants who attempted to solve difficult puzzles as quickly as possible while connected to sensors. The puzzles induced a certain level of stress, and participants listened to different songs while researchers measured brain activity as well as physiological states that included heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing.”
The song is called “Weightless” by Marconi Union. They found that participants who listened to this one song had an incredible 65% reduction in their overall anxiety, as well as a 35% reduction in their normal physiological resting rates. This is a pretty amazing result!
Melanie Curtain at Inc.com made a playlist of the top songs for relaxation that she shared in her article about the UK scientist’s discoveries. This is her list. Please note, that it is advised that you don’t listen to these songs unless you are in a safe place as the physical response can be so relaxing that it could put you in danger if you are driving or out walking around somewhere.
- “Weightless,” by Marconi Union
- “Electra,” by Airstream
- “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah
- “Watermark,” by Enya
- “Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay
- “Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona
- “Pure Shores,” by All Saints
- “Someone Like You,” by Adele
- “Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart
- “We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (Café Del Mar)
How has music impacted your stress and anxiety? What genre that makes you relax? Is it pop, alternative, country or rock? Is it effective in managing life when things get tough? Please let us know.