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Health
Published: October 20, 2017

The Only Music That Really Eases Stress and Pain

Stress is absolutely everywhere. Even when you feel like you’re thriving in one or more areas of your life, there’s always going to be stress somewhere else. One way that people choose to reduce stress is by listening to music, specifically, putting their very favorite tunes on repeat.

Listening to the favorite hits does make people feel better. But research has found that your favorite music may not be the best choice to ease stress and pain.

Listening, Fast and Slow

Even if faster tunes makes you feel better or upbeat, only the slower tunes help reduce stress and anxiety.

Slower beats have a meditative effect. Faster beats can’t really induce this same kind of feeling. Instead, they usually encourage more alert and concentrated thinking. This is useful for other situations but not stress reduction.

A study conducted by Monash University showed that slower classical music could help reduce “anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure”.1 The brain’s response to classical music may even help ease symptoms of depression as well as more day-to-day anxiety and stress.

Slower musical beats can alter brainwave speed, inducing a state that’s more meditative or hypnotic. Cognitive scientists and researchers in music therapy have spent a lot of time studying how musical rhythms impact our brainwaves and emotional states. This is why so many cultures (including most religious services) make slower, ceremonial music a big part of important rituals.2

Listening to music on headphones has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in hospital patients who need surgery. It can help reduce both physical pain and emotional distress of patients with chronic and postoperative pain.3

Soothing Tunes Don’t Have to Be Boring

Slow tunes, especially slow classical music, may sound boring for some listeners though. When you force yourself to listen to slow tunes that you can’t enjoy, it won’t reduce your stress but give you tension instead. You don’t need to force yourself to listen to relaxation music that you don’t like.

If you don’t already love many slow tunes, I’d recommend this Spotify playlist “Soothing Strings”. The music is calming but isn’t boring to anyone who isn’t used to listening to slow tunes.

Here are also a handful of YouTube tracks that you might try out:

Start exploring your favorite genres to find tracks you might like to use to ease your anxiety. As you explore more and more music, you’ll find ever more effective tracks personalized to your tastes. Don’t force yourself to use music that you actively dislike but keep an open mind as you listen and pay attention to how rhythms and melodies affect your mood. You may even surprise yourself.

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