You don’t always realise how much of an influence music has on you. That is until you forget to bring your headphones and have to listen to the deafening street noise. However, music is more than just a way to zone yourself out from the noise around you. It is a therapy.
You see, music helps us in many various ways and one of them is dealing with stress.
Multiple experts have previously investigated how listening to music can have a therapeutic effect on our mental and physical health. They found out music has a significant power to help reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain and improve our focus.
So how can listening to music help us deal with stress?
First of all, what is stress? Stated by WHO (World Health Organisation) stress is “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way we respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to our overall well-being.”
Interestingly, music can actually help us mitigate these feelings as studies show music is able to calm our nervous system and lower cortisol levels (these two things help reduce stress). Listening to music has been scientifically proven to release stress for multiple reasons:
Music triggers pleasure: When listening to music, our brain releases dopamine which is a neurotransmitter associated with rewards and pleasure. This response is basically our brain’s way of telling us to “Do it again!”
Music brings you back to the present: Our mind tends to prefer to focus on times where it is able to have some control. Stress is usually the result of thinking about something that has happened in the past or worrying about the future. Hence, for our minds to have some control, it would need to occur in the present and this way we can have music lead us to the rhythm so we can control our bodies such as moving with the rhythm of the music, dancing, clapping, tapping, snapping etc.
Music distracts us from stressors: This is a case for when you aren't stressed about something in the past or future but something happening in here and during this time. However having a playlist you enjoy or just find on Spotify could help, as it would be able to offer a distraction for any internal or external stress. Moreover, since music is able to give us a “pleasure sensation”, this response would allow our brain to be too happy to focus on a music signal, thus excluding anything else.
Music is an emotional release: Listening to music would allow you to express your emotions in a way no one else would know. This mental act would be able to get any unwanted feelings out of your body and mind.
Improves our moods and reduces anxiety: Music tends to be a coping mechanism for lots of people. It also serves as some sort of distraction from any negative thoughts or emotions. Engaging in an enjoyable activity would improve overall moods and reduce stress and listening to music can be an enjoyable activity if you have the right music that fits your music taste.
Improve sleep quality: Listening to music before bed can create some sort of relaxation and reduce any thoughts keeping you awake at night. This means listening to music would allow you to have a more relaxed night sleep. Furthermore, many people tend to use music as some sort of white noise which would block out any distracting noises. Overall, adding music to your night routine would improve your sleep quality and let you start in the morning feeling more refreshed and ready for the day.
Taking everything into account, it is clear to say that music is able to help us a lot with stress management and it is a key factor that helps us relieve stress easily in such an effortless way. Additionally, music is able to help our physical and mental health and make us have a lot more improvements in our daily life such as being more productive leading to a better result in our tasks.