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Heavy Metal Can Comfort You And Make You Calmer, Study Finds

Heavy Metal Can Comfort You And Make You Calmer, Study Finds

Heavy metal music is often touted as frenetic, fast-paced, and irascible music, with modern media eschewing it from the mainstream in favour of pop and rock genres. However, with metal music receiving a bad reputation for being ‘violent’ and nothing more than ‘noise’, the recent research into the genre has revealed some new and potentially intriguing benefits of listening to the genre of music.

The Research

Research conducted by the University of Auckland in Australia has found that listening to ‘extreme’ genres and forms of music – notably heavy metal music – can actually help comfort and emotionally buoy and support people who are feeling emotionally distressed or angry. The study looked into 39 individuals whose regular music tastes contained heavy metal, screamo, punk rock or hardcore musical genres, and aimed to examine their stress levels with relation to being exposed to the music.

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The individuals within the experiment were initiated by taking part in an ‘anger exam’, a 16-part questionnaire that touched upon personal issues and which was designed to make the individuals experience temporary feelings of anger and upset. The participants were then invited to either listen to the extreme music or sit in silence for ten minutes.

“Results showed levels of hostility, irritability, and stress decreased after music was introduced and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt,” Leah Sharman, an honors student at the University of Queensland and co-author of the research, stated.

The Results

The exposure to the music had a surprising effect upon those who chose to listen to the music following the questionnaire – it actually helped calm them down as quickly as sitting in silence did, and while both fans and non-fans of the particular musical genre found their psychological arousal levels heightened, both groups (fans of the genre and non-fans) experienced the heightened levels as a non-angry emotion. In short, they experienced a heightened mental arousal, but listening to the music which contained violent and aggressive overtones and lyrics, did not stimulate that arousal into anger, and there was no aggression inherently in the responses to the music.

“It was interesting that half of the chosen songs contained themes of anger or aggression, with the remainder containing themes like — though not limited to — isolation and sadness,” Sharman commented. “Yet participants reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love, and enhance their well-being. All of the responses indicated that extreme music listeners appear to use their choice of music for positive self-regulatory purpose.”

The extreme music then, it seems, acts as an emotional conduit, allowing the listeners to channel their emotions into a positive state of mind, absorbing the impact of any distressing emotion by validating it, and allowing the listener to regulate their own emotions into a positive baseline.

The Implications

The study seems to buck the trend of blaming aggressive musical genres for aggressive behaviours – in fact, while research over the years has long since linked aggressive genres of music for violent behaviours, due to their links to high-sensation-seeking behaviours and personalities, more recent developing research has been indicating that connection to musical preference influences the music that people find stimulating, relaxing, or soothing.

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Psychological research has long since intimated that large swathes of music correlate to musical behaviours, and while this can be widely regarded as largely true, it cannot stand for subjective taste and preference. If your preference is for rock music, then listening to classical music might not relax you at all, and may frustrate you, despite classical music’s longstanding opinion of being soothing and relaxing.

Sharman and Dingle’s research is an intriguing look into the way music affects our mood responses and behaviours, and while this avenue continues to develop, as often as our relationship to music changes and develops also, it is somewhat of a comfort to know that there is nothing wrong with listening to any of our own personal music preferences. Heavy metal might not be your cup of tea, but at least for some people it’s a relaxing genre which can help relax them and make them happy. Who can say anything wrong with that?

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More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on February 17, 2020

10 Ways To Always Be Yourself And Live Happily

10 Ways To Always Be Yourself And Live Happily

As you were probably told when you were in elementary school, “Just be yourself.” You can be a much happier person once you figure out who you truly are and when you learn how to be yourself.

If you are like most people, then you have probably told yourself that things would be better if there were certain changes in your life or changes to yourself. You can make those positive changes yourself. Be proactive, and have a more positive outlook about yourself.

Below are 10 ways to learn how to be yourself and live more happily:

1. Don’t Aim to Please Others

There is a problem if you are never doing what you want to do, yet always doing what everyone else wants to do. This Is Why You Shouldn’t Please Others But Yourself.

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Pleasing others can be a nice thing to do, but know where your boundaries are. Instead of always aiming to please others, you should do things for yourself as well every now and then.

2. Don’t Worry About How Others View You

Occasionally thinking about how others view you may make you change for the good, but you should not be constantly wondering about what others are thinking. You should change if you want to, and change into what or who you want to change into.

3. Learn More About Yourself

Do you know who you really are? Ever since you were young, you have been conditioned to be one way or another. It may be weird just to spend a day being your spontaneous self, but sometimes it is the only way that you can learn how to be yourself.

4. Appreciate Who You Are

No matter how weird you are, appreciate yourself! Each person is unique, and everyone has at least a little weirdness in themselves. Appreciate your weirdness and let it out.

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5. Be Confident with Who You Are

Do you ever doubt yourself? Doubting yourself can be very easy if you are constantly comparing yourself to others and wondering “What if?”

Instead of doubting yourself all the time, you should be confident with yourself and who you are. Showing confidence in yourself and your decisions will also show to others that you know what you are doing.

6. Forgive Yourself

Forgive yourself for thinking negatively. Forgive yourself for talking, without thinking twice. Forgive yourself for being rude to your superiors, your friends, your parents, or your siblings.

Don’t think negative thoughts about yourself for taking wrong steps or making wrong decisions. This kind of thinking puts your focus on the problem and not the solution. It’s better to say good things about yourself than to say negative things. Always saying positive things about yourself is a sign that you have forgiven yourself.

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These tips will be helpful for you: How to Forgive Yourself and Move Forward for a Happier Life

7. Stop Being Negative About Yourself

Do you look at everything as a glass half full or a glass half empty? It can be easy to be negative about yourself. When it comes to being happy, it is vital that you learn how to be yourself and to be more positive.

8. Find a Hobby That You Love

Everyone has something that they live for or that they love to do. Figure out what you love to do and make a hobby out of it. Doing what you love can make you much happier.

9. Learn from Your Mistakes

You can really learn more about yourself when you make a mistake. Here is Why You Should Be Proud of Making Mistakes.

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Mistakes in your life do not always need to be seen negatively. Think about what went wrong, learn from it, and move on.

10. Strive for What You Want to Accomplish

Being yourself does not have to mean that you have to be stuck in status quote. Aim for what you want to achieve and strive for that accomplishment. You can improve yourself while still remaining true to yourself.

More Tips About Staying True to Yourself

Featured photo credit: Adrien King via unsplash.com

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