by Brandy Abalos

Music can dramatically affect the body, especially emotions like stress. Upbeat music can create positive feelings. A slower tempo can be soothing. Music is an effective tool to reduce stress and improve relaxation in many ways.

What Is Stress?

It is crucial to know what stress is to understand how to reduce stress through music. Medically stress is a feeling of tension or being overwhelmed that impacts a person physically and mentally. There is a biological component of stress that involves hormones in the brain. When a person is highly stressed, their adrenal gland releases cortisol. Cortisol is often called “the stress hormone.” Cortisol is not always bad. It can help improve focus and create energy in certain situations. However, when the brain produces cortisol unnecessarily or excessively, it can cause chronic stress, which often results in anxiety, depression, chronic pain or other conditions.

Studies Indicate Music Can Reduce Stress

Researchers at Stanford University have said that listening to music can change brain function in the same manner as medication. Music around 60 beats per minute can synchronize alpha brainwaves to the beat. Alpha brainwaves are directly associated with relaxation and consciousness.

Calm music can coordinate delta brainwaves to induce sleep. Scientists note that music is an easy stress-reduction tool that nearly everyone can access. Specifically, compiled research indicates that music can lower heart rate and cortisol levels. It also helps release endorphins and provides an overall sense of well-being. Music provides stress reduction in clinical settings as well as in everyday lives.

How to Reduce Stress with Music

There are many ways to reduce stress. Since stress has both mental and physical components, it’s ideal to find a method of relaxation that involves both elements of relief. Music fits that description perfectly. The brain directly interprets music, and the body can feel it through vibrations. Dancing or exercising to music has additional stress reduction benefits. Music provides a multifaceted approach to attacking stress.

What Types of Music are the Best Stress Relievers?

While all music can improve moods, some of the best types to reduce stress include Native American, Celtic and Indian music. Any music with stringed instruments, drums and flutes can reduce stress significantly.

Rain, thunder and other natural sounds can also be relaxing, especially when they’re mixed with other music like light jazz or classical.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Music on Mood

Music that the listener likes will benefit them the most. Listening to music or sounds that are displeasing causes tension. Exploring various beats, tempos and sounds is ideal for helping the listener find what relieves their stress the best. It is optimal to listen to music for at least 30 minutes daily to lower stress levels. However, any amount of time can be beneficial, even as few as 10minutes. Listening to music for 45 minutes just before bed can improve rest.

Music is an Effective Way to Reduce All Levels of Stress

Music can help manage emotions, no matter how high a person’s stress level is. There is no specific type of music that works best. It’s most effective when the listener enjoys the music they hear. When life becomes overwhelming, music is a simple and accessible way to reduce stress.