Music has so many profound influences on the human psyche. It is a terrific physical motivator during exercise. It sometimes evokes powerful memories and emotions and can even prompt listeners to dance or sing along. One of the most important and beneficial uses for music, however, is stress management and reduction. Soft, soothing music has a unique ability to calm the mind and body, and also provides a variety of positive physical and psychological effects.
Countless studies have linked music, especially classical or relaxing genres, with slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure and even reducing stress hormone levels. Specifically, researchers have reported music’s ability to reduce the actual sensation of chronic pain, as well as the associated anxiety. Music has also been shown to decrease stress in patients before and after surgery. The science behind this phenomenon is actually quite simple. When the human body anticipates pain or anxiety, genes inside our cells react by producing chemicals that cause us to experience stress and fear. But music tells those genes to do just the opposite, and turns off the body’s stress chemical response. Another study suggested that music’s calming effects can be attributed to its ability to distract the listener. When an onslaught of external forces demand our attention, we feel overloaded and helpless. But redirecting the focus on just one thing, the music, reminds your brain that it is in control.
What you think about you bring about. -Donna Marie
If you have ever visited a spa to relax, rejuvenate and escape from stress, you’ve probably noticed the type of ambient music playing. Typically it is soft, slow and sweeping. Often there are even sounds of nature laced throughout the instrumentals. There are no sharp spikes or heavy crashes. The music is never fast paced, and this is for good reason. Just as studies reveal the calming, anti-stress effects of gentle music, they also prove that hard, heavy, intense music can create converse results. All music has its own specific energy, and hard, fast rock or booming bass lines often cause muscle tension and elevated heart rate; two classic harbingers of stress.
At some point in your life, you’ve no doubt experienced a degree of stress, and despite your best efforts, it’s likely you will feel stress again someday. Next time you are overworked, anxious, nervous, scared or jittery, pause for a moment. Sit or lie down, breathe deeply and listen to this piece:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgjyculg1O8. It is a wonderfully calming arrangement of relaxing music and tranquil sounds. As you are listening, continue to breathe and focus on your body’s physical reactions. Tell your jaw to stop clenching and loosen your muscles. Don’t force it, but gently allow the music and your breathing to bring your feelings back into balance. There are countless musical pieces available to help you manage and decrease stress. If you need additional guidance, try my “Relaxations for Inner Peace” meditation CD. There are three tracks of guided relaxation, each underscored by soft, calming classical music. They are arranged in short, medium and long lengths to accommodate your lifestyle and time commitments, but I encourage you to explore all three. Listening frequently will condition your body and mind to absorb the music, release the stress, and ultimately become more stress free in your day-to-day existence.
Feel free to share your favorite music. I would love to hear from you.