For people who suffer from anxiety disorders, music can provide a simple and affordable means of stress relief. Healthcare professionals have been using music for therapeutic purposes for years. The belief in the power of music to soothe a troubled mind dates back even to biblical times when David played the harp to calm an agitated King Saul.
Why Music affects You
Today, there are a number of studies examining the potential for certain types of music to create feelings of stress or tranquility in the listener. Research by shows that lively music increases the production of norepinephrine, a chemical in the brain linked to physiological arousal. This means that an up-tempo pop song is more likely to make you feel excitement. Slow-paced music tends to have the opposite effect on the brain and the body, which is why Chopin’s well-loved piano pieces engender feelings of peace and relaxation in the listener.
There are documented cases of patients reporting lowered levels of anxiety – and even pain – after listening to relaxing music before and following an operation. The effects of soothing music on the brain can be seen in a PET scan, which maps active regions in the brain. Pleasant, relaxing music is thought to increase the production of serotonin, a chemical our body produces that promotes happiness and positive emotion.
What Music can do for You
Music can help with a variety of anxiety-related ailments. There are physical symptoms caused by anxiety disorders which may be alleviated by music and relaxation techniques. Some of these symptoms listed on WebMD include tenseness or pain in the muscles, nervous energy, and irritability.
Selecting Appropriate Songs
There are a variety of easy listening compilations which include anything from New Age to Jazz. Easy listening tracks are also recommended for use during meditation and yoga, activities that can further reduce stress and anxiety.
When seeking to reduce anxiety, pieces that increase serotonin (such as those of Bach and Vivaldi) tend to be a good, safe choice. High energy songs are not shown to be helpful in relieving symptoms of anxiety in most people.
It’s important that you find what works specifically for you. While some people are soothed by strains of classical music, others may feel more comfortable listening to a popular Beatles song. Just remember that your music choice should be based on what you find the most pleasant or relaxing. Pay attention to how the music affects your breathing and heart rate.