Stress and anxiety can come from a hundred different directions – work, school, family, friends – and sometimes, all at once. Plenty of us have already discovered tips and tricks to help us manage our stress levels, and it’s not uncommon for people to incorporate music into those coping techniques.
Now, though, neuroscience confirms that we’re on the right track.
A study was done recently that identified the best songs to reduce overall anxiety. In it, participants attempted to solve difficult puzzles under time constraints while connected to sensors. This induced stress (measured by heart rate, brain activity, blood pressure, and rate of breathing), which researchers attempted to counteract with different types of music.
According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson, one of the scientists at Mindlab International who conducted the study, the top song proved to reduce participants anxiety by up to 65%.
That’s a pretty significant impact! What’s even more impressive is that Marconi Union, the group who created the top song, worked with sound therapists in an attempt to accomplish just that. The harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines are designed to work together to slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and lower cortisol levels.
Since stress has a host of debilitating side effects on the body – including heart disease, obesity, depression, tummy troubles, asthma, and, according to a recent paper, even death – people looking at innovative ways to handle stress are on the cutting edge.
Music, after all, is a good way to ease the pressures in your life – to take a break from the constant barrage of social media and other modes of communication that horn in on every waking moment of our lives.
One word of advice, though: don’t listen to these tunes while driving. Dr. Lewis-Hodgson says that the top track was “so effective, many women became drowsy, and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.”
But as long as you’re home and not in charge of any tiny human lives at that very moment, take advantage. After all, science is helping our bodies live longer, but what good will it do if we don’t take care of our minds, too?
#10. “We Can Fly” by Rue du Soleil (Cafe Del Mar)
#9. “Canzonetta Sull’aria” by Mozart
#8. “Someone Like You” by Adele
#7. “Pure Shores” by All Saints
#6. “Please Don’t Go” by Barcelona
#5. “Strawberry Swing” by Coldplay
#4. “Watermark” by Enya
#3. “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)” by DJ Shah
#2. “Electra” by Airstream
#1. “Weightless” by Marconi Union
Here’s a public, compiled playlist in case you don’t want to make your own. Happy listening!
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