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Soothe Your Stress Away with Music

If you regularly turn to music intuitively to relieve stress, you certainly aren’t alone. You can definitely tap into the power of music to bring healing to yourself.

Read along to discover the hidden psychological benefits of music that will make you feel better in times of stress. If you are not a music lover, the treasure trove of hidden benefits below just might convert you to begin singing a new tune as your go-to stress reliever.

Music can help relieve stress.

In one 2013 study, participants took part in one of three conditions before being exposed to a stressor, and subsequently took a psychosocial stress test. Some participants listened to relaxing music, others listened to the sound of rippling water, and the rest received no auditory stimulation. The results suggested that listening to music had an impact on the human stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system, otherwise known as our fight or flight system. Those who had listened to music tended to recover more quickly following any kind of stressor.

Music can improve cognitive performance.

Research suggests that background music can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. Specifically, one study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed, while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory. The trick is the music has to be more instrumental and less complicated, otherwise you will be more prone to distraction when completing your tasks, and you will not be productive.

Music can help curb your appetite.

According to one study, people who ate at low-lit restaurants where soft music was played, consumed 18-20 percent less food than those who ate in other restaurants. The research suggests that the music and lighting help create a more relaxed setting. Since the participants were more relaxed and comfortable, they may have consumed their food more slowly and as a result been more aware of when they began to feel full. By creating a relaxing setting, you may be more likely to eat slowly, and as a result feel fuller sooner.

Music can raise your level of endorphins so you feel less pain.

Research has shown that music can be very helpful in the management of pain, and in increasing your pain threshold. One study of fibromyalgia patients found that those who listened to music for just one hour a day experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those in a control group.

In the study, patients with fibromyalgia were assigned to either an experimental group that listened to music once a day for four weeks or a control group that received no treatment. At the end of the four-week period, those who had listened to music each day experienced significant reductions in feelings of pain, depression and anxiety. Such results suggest that music therapy could be an important tool in the treatment of chronic crippling pain.

Music can help you sleep better. 

Insomnia is a serious problem that affects people of all age groups. While there are many approaches to treating this problem as well as other common sleep disorders, research has demonstrated that listening to relaxing classical music can be a safe, effective, and affordable remedy to getting a good night’s sleep.

Music can boost your mood-Music just might make you happier. Researchers have discovered that music played an important role in arousal and mood. Participants rated music’s ability to help them achieve a better mood, become more self-aware, and reflective as two of the most important functions of music. One study found that while music can certainly have an impact on mood, the type of music is also important. Researchers found that classical and meditation music offered the greatest mood-boosting benefits, while heavy metal and techno music were found to be ineffective and even detrimental.

Music can improve and reduce symptoms of depression. Researchers have also found that music therapy can be a safe and effective treatment for a variety of disorders, including depression and other forms of anxiety. A study appearing in the World Journal of Psychiatry found that in addition to reducing depression and anxiety in patients suffering from neurological conditions such as dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease, music therapy showed no negative side effects, meaning it is a very safe and low-risk approach to treatment, and to certain treatment resistant depressions.

Music can improve your exercise routine. Listening to music while working out lowers a person’s perception of exertion. You’re working harder, but it doesn’t seem like you’re putting forth more effort. Because your attention is diverted by the music, you are less likely to notice the obvious signs of exertion such as increased respiration, sweating, and muscle soreness, which in turn makes you have an efficient workout.

As one can see, music has the power to inspire and entertain, but it also has powerful psychological and medicinal effects that can improve your health and well-being. Instead of thinking of music as pure entertainment, consider some of the major mental health benefits of incorporating music into your everyday life. You might find that you feel more motivated, happy, and calmer as a result. You can start by singing, or humming a tune in your morning shower!

Soothe Your Stress Away with Music

Emily Waters

Emily Waters earned her Master's degree in industrial psychology with an emphasis in human relations. She possesses keen insight into the field of applied psychology, organizational development, motivation, and stress, the latter of which is ubiquitous in the workplace environment and in one’s personal life. One of her academic passions is the understanding of human nature and illness as it pertains to the mind and body. Prior to obtaining her degree, she worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Presently, she teaches a variety of psychology courses both in public and private universities.

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APA Reference
Waters, E. (2018). Soothe Your Stress Away with Music. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 25 Feb 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.