Today we encounter stress and anxiety everywhere we go. The vicissitudes of modern life almost predict that disruption of one’s peaceful and calm existence will sometimes be interrupted, many times unexpectedly. What can we do about it? Through many research studies, science has proven that listening to or producing calming music can have a positive and lasting impact on relieving stress. How is this accomplished?
It is now well established music releases endorphins (natural opiates that relax us) into the body thereby lessening the stress and anxiety causing our discomfort. In a research study by Marie Helsing at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, she used two groups, one listened to music everyday and the second group spent time relaxing each day without music. The results showed a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone, and better overall health in the group that listened to music.
The type of music did not seem to matter as much as whether or not the participants liked the music. The more the participants liked the music, the better the results. Music evokes positive emotions in listeners and therefore is thought to be beneficial for wellbeing and health, reported Helsing.
Current thinking based on scientific research says that making music is just as effective as listening to music. Singing, for example, is a very effective way of easing tension and anxiety. The old bromide of singing in the shower turns out to be beneficial to ones well-being and not just singing to hear your self sing. Singing is a great release of tension.
The soothing power of music is well established. It has a relaxing effect on minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. Music decreases the levels of stress hormones. Calming music before bedtime promotes peace and relaxation and helps induce sleep. As we know, productivity increases when stress is reduced. Music can also relieve depression and increase self-esteem.
Music can be a great aid to meditation, helping to prevent the mind from wandering. Certain music is appropriate for meditation as it can help the mind slow down and initiate the relaxation response. Loud, raucous music can be irritating or unsettling. Gentle music with a familiar melody is more comforting.
Listening to music can lower a stressed patients’ heart rate, reduce the need for anesthesia in surgery, enhance restful sleep, lower blood pressure and boost immune response, to name a few. Relaxation music often uses the sounds of nature on compact discs (CD). Water sounds are soothing and birdsongs are often used as an aid to help release stress.
There is a genre of music specifically designed to relieve anxiety and stress naturally without drugs and pills. It is called healing music and listening to it eases the stress response. Healing music can help people achieve a calmer, more peaceful state of mind. It produces physical changes in the body by alternating brainwave patterns and lowering blood pressure.
There are a few CDs highly recommended for healing music. Music for Brainwave Massage, by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, moves one to a meditative state.
Wind and Mountain, by Deuter, is good for encouraging creativity. Drone Zone, by Kay Gardner, has short songs for relaxation based on a root tone or “drone” that produces a specific vibration within the body. Harmonic Response, by Jim Oliver, produces harmonic tones to which the body responds. Music for Healing, by Steven Halpern, who is a pioneer in the science of sound healing.
Janelle Barlow, Ph.D. of the Stress Reduction Institute says, “Reduction of stress may not only be modern man’s answer to survival but also the key to his expanding potential.”
When you close your eyes and listen to calming music on a daily basis you will be more centered and less venerable to outside pressure. This April, while doing your taxes, play calming music and maybe it will become a less stressful chore.
Mark your calendars for The Danville Community Band’s Annual Blackhawk Museum Concert “A Gallery of Sound” Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Free concert with museum entrance fee.
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