The stress-reducing effect of music

Normally, stress is described as a negative condition that can affect mental and physical wellbeing. However, not all stress is negative, yet a continuous activation of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) can contribute to stress-related illness such as coronary heart disease and immunosuppressive disorders.

Various strategies can be adopted to manage stress more effectively. Among these, the correlation between listening to music and reduced levels of stress has been examined in detail, resulting in scientifically supported benefits. In particular, music therapy is commonly used as a complementary treatment for a variety of diseases.

An example of this would be the use of relaxing music, often with a low beats per minute (BPM). It is able to reduce stress, anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure in coronary heart disease and cancer patients. Moreover, listening to music before, during and after surgery has been suggested to reduce cortisol levels. Music influence the brains neural activity modifying the activity in the cortical and subcortical areas which are related to attention, memory and motor functions, such as limbic and paralimbic areas that are related to emotions.

In addition, music enhances the ability of the two hemispheres to work in synergy. But which is the correct type of music to listen to? The rhythm of music influence behavior in different manners, for example, slow non-lyrical music with harmony and a lack of percussive instrument increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) with an increase of alpha brain wave frequency resulting in a relaxation response. With this considered it produces muscular relaxation, and a decrease of systolic blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate.

It is important however to select the appropriate type of music depending on the desired outcome. It is suggested that the bodies relaxation is facilitated by music between 60 and 80 beats per minute with the additional elements of melodies performed with specific instruments such as harps, the cello, and strings integrated with natural sound such as rainforest, birdcalls, and falling rain. Music is recommended to be implemented for a minimum duration of 20 minutes per day, even if the most effective duration, frequency, timing and type of music differentiates.

Why not joining together music and exercise? It could be an excellent solution that of exercising at low intensity whilst listening a Mozart sonata, as you can do on Recline Personal.

In conclusion, music is an effective, inexpensive and safe intervention to reduce stress.