Science tells us that music regulates mood and arousal and also reduces stress, and so it only makes sense that one of the best times to listen to music is during moments of stress. In many cultures, music is used as a form of meditation. Music can be soothing and relaxing when listened to alone, or as a group at a concert or other performance.
Here’s how music can relax you:
• One of the best times to employ music’s ability to regulate mood is when you are driving to or from work. Since we tend to have a lot on our minds at that time, driving in silence can often encourage more stressful thoughts.
If you are thinking of work projects and deadlines during your commute, you are adding powerful chemicals to your brain and body that can make you anxious or even a little depressed. So why not make the commitment not to stress yourself out before you get to work?
Instead of letting the stressful thoughts get to you, try to enjoy the time you have before getting to work by listening to some calm and relaxing music. (You may want to try to stay away from heavy metal rock!). You arrive you will feel more at ease and less anxious, and can then give off your own positive (calm and relaxing) energy to your collogues or co-workers, resulting in a better day for everyone.
• Listening to music at home can also be fun – and it’s free. For example, try looking up some old favorites on YouTube. quite enjoyable because YouTube would then suggest other similar music based on your search. Try to choose music that brings back joyful memories, not the ones that bring back memories of a breakup or unpleasant experiences better left in the past. Using music as background noise while getting dressed in the mornings or doing household chores can make your tasks more enjoyable and the time fly .
• Music during exercise can also be motivating. Some people can get so caught up in the music that they almost forget they are exercising when listening to their favorite playlist. If you are one of those people who can listen to the same songs over and over, this is a great way to reach your workout goals. In the meantime, you will be reducing your stress and finding yourself more relaxed at the end of the day.
Music is a safe and free way to reduce stress, so take advantage of it!
By Marlena Hunter, M.A., MFTI is currently providing psychotherapy in Westlake Village, CA as a Registered Marriage and Family Counseling Intern. She has a Master of Arts degree in Psychology, specializing in Individual and family therapy, and has gained several years experience in several clinical settings.