It’s no secret that music can have a profound effect on our emotions. It can bring us joy or move us to tears; it can sharpen our focus or allow us to relax. One song in particular has drawn attention recently for its remarkable effectiveness in helping people with combating their anxiety. Researchers at Mindlab International conducting a study about the effects of music on anxiety found that the song “Weightless” by the Marconi Union reduced the anxiety of the participants of the study by an astounding 65%! For some, this is the equivalent of taking a Valium, (it’s possible that it should come with a warning against listening and operating machinery) or other anti-anxiety medications. This can be a win-win for people going through anxiety problems who might not want to rely on medication to help them cope with their mental health concerns.
When researchers at Mindlab first began their experiment, they wanted to find music that best reduced anxiety. They narrowed their selection to 10 songs that all had calming effects. Each song had a soothing, ambient quality, coupled with pleasant harmonics and a deep and steady beat. Below is the list of the top 10 most soothing songs, as discovered and proven by their research:
- Marconi Union – “Weightless”
- Airstream – “Electra”
- DJ Shah – “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)”
- Enya – “Watermark”
- Coldplay – “Strawberry Swing”
- Barcelona – “Please Don’t Go”
- All Saints – “Pure Shores”
- Adele – “Someone Like You”
- Mozart – “Canzonetta Sull’aria”
- Cafe Del Mar – “We Can Fly”
While these songs were each soothing in their own way, “Weightless” still won by a landslide with “Electra” by Airstream coming in second. Enya was also on the list (no surprise there) and Mozart. Of course, there may be a less mainstream, more soothing song out there somewhere hiding from the limelight, but researchers of this study found great results within their sample size of songs that they tested.
What’s Special About THIS Song?
So what’s so special about “Weightless”? The song has a distorted, ambient quality. It kind of acts like a more pleasant version of white noise to distract the brain from other noises, internal and external. The only rhythmic quality is the consistent, slow beat, which sounds very much like a heart beat. It’s possible that the blend of pleasant ambient melodies and the slow and steady bass line are enough to make our heartbeats become even and calm. It was also wordless, unlike many of the other songs that were tested.
It’s possible that lyrics, especially heartbreaking lyrics like those in Adele’s “Someone Like You”, may detract from the relaxing effect that the melody by itself would have on a listener. Whatever the secret, the effect was not accidental. The Marconi Union actually teamed up with sound therapists in an effort to create a song that would induce a highly relaxed state (so we really do advise against listening to it in the car) and they were ultimately successful. Take some time to listen to the song using the link below and see if you can determine the source of its mesmerizing effects.
The Power of Music Therapy
Over 40 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and this number is rising. Many people take pharmaceuticals to cope with this problem, sometimes with limited success. Music therapy could offer a wonderful alternative treatment or co-treatment for people suffering from chronic or acute anxiety. Currently, music therapists around the globe use it to promote wellness, reduce pain, improve communication, and even enhance memory.
As research continues, researchers may discover that music is a more powerful tool than we ever realized. Perhaps someday, it will be accepted as a more mainstream treatment in hospitals, nursing homes, and other treatment facilities. For now, though, pull out your headphones and enjoy these private therapy sessions!
What Do YOU Think?
Almost everyone has a playlist for many different occasions. Most of us have a song or songs we like to listen to in order to relax, to study, to work out, to wake up, or to boost our mood. Take some time to comment below and tell us what you think. Do you have a soothing song that you like to listen to when you’re feeling stressed or anxious? Post the link below!
Featured photo credit: Odyssey via theodysseyonline.com
|||^||YouTube: Weightless by Marconi Union|
|||^||Collective Evolution: Neuroscientists Discover A Song That Reduces Anxiety By 65 Percent (Listen)|
|||^||Anxiety Centre: Anxiety Effects on Society Statistics|
|||^||American Music Therapy Association|