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The Effectiveness of Different Types of Music for Stress Management

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Music influences our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It is designed a certain way to allow us to feel different emotions and moods, as well as serve as a way to express ourselves and simply enjoy something beautiful.


1. Acts as a change agent, where we use it to go from a non-desired psychological state to a desired one (for example, we go from stressed to relaxed, or from low motivation to high motivation). Music also intensifies or helps with the expression of our current emotions.

We may listen to happy music to help us not be depressed; pump-up music to dance or to clean to. And sacred music to be uplifted and edified; it is written testimony that invites us to reflect and act on the words.

Music can energize us and relax us. So when we choose music for ourselves and the people around us, consider how you want to feel, then choose music that can help produce that feeling.

2. Is a universal form of communication because the artist usually tries to portray a message to its listeners. Music elicits a story, a feeling, etc. Every culture all over the world produces music. And although we all may speak different languages, we are connected through the language of music. It is said that,

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

Words resonate with us, and we can often relate to the lyrics of songs.

3. Effects study (particularly classical music). It opens our minds to learn and can help us to focus. Research have shown that music helps with the study of math and science. And we can remember events or knowledge if we place ourselves in the same/similar situation as when we acquired the knowledge or experienced the event. In college, at the testing center, there were two rooms to choose from when taking a test--one that was silent, and one that had classical music playing softly in the background. Music often helps me to learn personally—when I create mnemonic devices and when teachers put academic material to music to help me remember.

4. Has a healing power, and through its use we can relieve stress, as well as serve others—either with actual Music Therapy, or with entertainment through blessing others with our talents.

5. Can trigger certain memories that you have. When couples have a “song” and then when that song comes on, they think of that person—or if the couple breaks up and the song comes on, we don’t want to listen to it, because it reminds us of that person.

6. Can have a negative impact as well. Hear me out... There is a lot of filth out there, with offensive language and sexual innuendos. There is actually music that drives teens to sex. That’s what sells. It’s pretty sad. Just like with other media, what we see or hear can lead to action. Even in the malls and grocery stores, the background music that is played is designed to get you to buy. So, as with all things, we must use wise judgment in our choices.

Also, it’s nice to have some peace and quiet every now and then, in which we can ponder and reflect—in contrast to the noisy, chaotic world that we do live in. It is said that,

“Silence is music.”The silence can help us pay close attention to detail, as we are more observant, and we can pick up on sounds that we may have not really realized were there—sounds we hear around us that are often forgotten in the background because the radio is always on. So it is also important to appreciate the sounds in nature, which is like music that God created for us. And really, we’re born with music; it is in our divine make-up.


Finding Stress-relief Through Music

Everyone experiences stress from time to time; it's a natural physical and mental reaction in life. Our heart races, our breath quickens, and our muscles tighten. We may be more irritable and frustrated. This response was designed to protect ourselves in an emergency by preparing us to react quickly. And stress can help motivate us to get things done. But when we're experiencing it day in and day out, it could put our health at serious risk. Stress can trigger, aggravate, or make us more susceptible to many physical and mental illnesses--including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, autoimmune disease, and much more. We can experience gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and insomnia. And chronic stress is linked to anxiety disorders, which frequently co-occur with depressive disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse.

There have been studies where people were given questionaries to find results about stress levels through anger scores, relaxation ratings, and anxiety questions. Electrodes and sensors were placed on their bodies to measure their heart-rates and run skin-conductance tests.

In one particular study, individuals exposed to classical and self-selected music after exposure to a stressor, showed significant reductions in anger, anxiety and stress levels. They produced positive emotional and cognitive states. Self-selected music had the most ‘clinical’ change in decrease, as it fosters feelings of personal control. Heavy metal music showed an even higher anxiety and stress level--and sitting in silence had little impact. So no matter what type of music you listen to, as long as it is a genre you like, and it is relaxing to you—then, it is likely that your stress-level will reduce.

The Influence Music Has on Babies

Classical music has shown to boost cognitive function, although experts' opinions have been mixed. One theory known as the "Mozart Effect," has seemed to be debunked--which is the belief that babies exposed to classical music when they are in their mother's womb, makes them become smarter.

However, studies have found that babies (already born) who move rhythmically to music smile more, are easier to soothe, and are more willing to explore their environment than babies who simply listen. And moving to music with anyone in general--your child, significant other, dance partner, etc.--triggers the release of oxytocin, the "bonding" hormone also produced during nursing.

And if you're a parent, when music is part of your routine, your little one may also speak up sooner. Compared to passive listeners, studies have found that babies who engage in making music with simple rhythm instruments, use more communicative gestures--which helps them acquire language skills. Songs also introduce your baby to new words and rhymes, and setting words to music helps the brain learn them more quickly. Other research has linked rhythmicity (the ability to tap a beat) with increased reading ability in older kids.

So as you can see, music has a great impact on us in many ways. It has and continues to be a source of healing for me, as it helps me relieve stress and anxiety. And listening, singing, and dancing to music boosts my mood when I'm feeling down. Feeling stressed? Do some yoga. Meditate. Relax. Make it a priority to take care of yourself. And partake of the healing power of music.

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