This is a guest article by Lucy Wyndham
Globally, an estimated 284 million people experienced an anxiety disorder back in 2017, proving just how prevalent the mental health concern is on a worldwide scale. However, in addition to using breathing techniques, yoga, and other relaxing activities, music may offer another way to effectively aid in relieving stress and anxiety. Whether you’re looking to supplement methods that are already working to help your anxiety or you want to try something new, here’s how music can help.
The clear health benefits
Music is well known for having a positive effect on our health, in regards to being able to help heart health, boost exercise performance, and decrease fatigue — to name just a few. Though, it’s also important to recognize that music can also have a profound effect on emotions, too. For instance, researchers at Stanford University note that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication”. While it’s certainly not a replacement for prescription medication, different types of music are known to have an effect on mood. For example, while a slow tempo can induce relaxation, upbeat music can help you to feel more optimistic and positive, proving its effects to be quite impactful.
Music and anxiety
When it comes to music and how it can help relieve anxiety specifically, one study brings to light just how helpful it can be, especially when dealing with stressful situations. In the study, participants attempted to solve different puzzles as quickly as possible while connected to sensors and listening to different music. While the puzzle challenge induced stress, researchers measured brain activity and physiology status in order to gauge the effects of the music. According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International (which conducted the research), the top song, titled “Weightless,” produced a greater state of relaxation than any others, resulting in an impressive 65% reduction in participants' overall anxiety.
Where to begin
While many benefits can be taken simply from listening to music, making music can also bring benefits, too. Suzanne Hanser, chair of the music therapy department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, notes that music-making is linked to a number of different health benefits, particularly in older adults. In fact, research shows that playing music can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression, effectively highlighting a wide range of benefits. Whether you plan on learning to play the piano, guitar, or violin, there is a myriad of high quality online resources that can aid in the learning process, meaning that you don’t need to invest in a formal education to become a serious musician. Comprehensive apps include regular content updates in addition to lessons for both beginners and advanced players — not to mention the inclusion of 20 different genres. Other resources, such as the Tom Morello Masterclass, include features that are better geared towards aspiring songwriters, and are ideal for newer performers with sections on developing creative voice.
While music has been long known to have a number of health benefits, it’s important to realize that it can also be utilized in managing stress and anxiety. From listening to music to making some of your own, getting started is as easy as consulting high quality online resources.