Some mornings might be more stressful than others. An example could be you’re on your way to work or school, there’s too much traffic, and on top of that you’re running late. Also, you left your coffee on the kitchen table because you were in a rush. This scenario is becoming more and more common in our fast-paced, hectic lives. At times, we find ourselves with too much to do, too many paces to be, and too many people to please. And when we try to clear our mind, invoke our breathing practice, or channel positive thinking – we are left with the opposite effect. With this being the case, how can we take care of ourselves? Easy, you can listen to music!

            – Celeste

Music is part of being human

We respond to music on a deep and fundamental level. It affects our bodies and brains in ways without us needing to do more than just sitting and listening. We all have the ability and capacity to respond to music, and this is because music is a human invention that is made by humans, for humans, and has been around for several years. 


Music affects the brain

The study of music and the brain is a growing area of research. Here are some of the cool things researchers are discovering about music:

  • It increases our dopamine levels (the “feel good” hormone)
  • Is intimately tied to our emotional memory
  • Affects our breathing rate and heart rate. We listen to lullabies to sleep and upbeat tunes to push through any difficult task you are working on!


Other key findings:

  • Music overall has a positive effect on stress reduction in both physiological arousal and especially psychological response. With regards to time frame, music has an immediate beneficial effect on these outcomes.
  • Music experienced as pleasant increases the intensity of emotional valence (happiness), which has a stress-reducing effect.
  • Listening to music can provide “distraction” from stress-increasing thoughts or aversive emotional states
  • Music with a slow, steady rhythm may provide stress reduction by altering inherent body rhythms such as heart rate. Also, larger effects are found listening to music with a tempo of 60-80 beats per minute, which characterizes music that progresses in a slow soothing pace.
  • Positive outcomes are observed when individuals select their own music, and when researchers pre-select music for research participants. However, because music appreciation and enjoyment is highly subjective, maximal benefits are often observed when individuals select their own relaxing music. Positive effects are typically observed when individuals listen to slow and steady songs, or relaxing classical music.


Self care strategies and resources:

When wanting to relax and reduce stress listen to slow paced classical music or other slow, steady music that you find relaxing and enjoyable. The advantage of listening to slower songs is that they have scientific support for being physiologically or psychologically relaxing/stress-reducing. Some songs you can listen to are The dove by Respighi, Pachelbel – Canon in D Major (best version), Someone Like You – Adele, Strawberry Swing – Coldplay and other songs by simply looking them up on YouTube!


Sources: Using Music for self-care/stress reduce: