To understand how one can use music for anxiety, one must understand how music interacts with the brain. Music is not just about making you happier but improving your overall mental health. Irrespective of our age, you get smarter, wiser and more productive. All the benefits of music are intensely multiplied if you are not just listening to it, but playing it as well.
Research says that music has a better brain than an average individual. Brains of music enthusiasts have a better connection between different compartments. Their brains are more sensitive and responsive and have a healthier functioning of neurons.
As a result, music can help an individual develop better memory, auditory skills and sense of perception. In addition to enhanced, motor skills, symmetrical behavior between both hemispheres and spatial coordination.
[Also Read: Natural Treatment for Anxiety]
The Connection Between Music and Anxiety Levels
Among many impacts, the primary way music reduces stress, is by lowering the levels of stress hormones- cortisol. Any and every form of calming music for anxiety(1) essentially stimulates the formation of few specific brain chemicals.
A central chemical among such is the neurotransmitter – dopamine. Dopamine is believed to be the key hormone acting behind positive dispositions such as happiness, motivation, hope, faith, and encouragement. With a better stimulation of dopamine, your brain will generate a thorough feel-good factor.
Eventually eradicating your stress levels. Especially when you anticipate the favorite part of a song, and it arrives -you get extra shot of dopamine boost.
Now whilst you listen to music for anxiety, the brain receives simulation on just the cortisol and dopamine. Playing, on the other hand, takes it a step further with its impact on Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps develop trust and social bonding abilities. This is a major reason why musicians are generally found to be kind and generous individuals.
Hence, the reason why music helps reducing anxiety isn’t just a matter of coincidence -but sheer biology. Drawing from such reasons, patients with chronic anxiety (and many other mental ailments) are often prescribed music therapy by doctors.
Did You Know?
- Music utilizes almost every compartment of your brain, which is rare to most other activities.
- Playing music extensively can actually alter the physiology of your brain.
- Music can not only influence your brain, but also the brain of your unborn child.
Different Types of Relaxing Music for Anxiety
Almost every music genre has a positive influence on your brain and helps you evade anxiety in some way or the other. Even when you listen to sad songs, it helps you get in deeper touch with your own emotions.
Which in turn helps you to gain closure on your emotional conflicts, and reduce emotional distress triggered anxiety. Similarly, each genre reduces your anxiety in their own unique ways.
In terms of impact on stress, all different genres and sub-genres can be grouped under four heads – Classical, Jazz, Metal and the rest. Under the rest category, the common ones are -reggae, hip-hop, pop, techno, and country.
Classical music with its complex juxtapositions of different note sections creating new chords and progression, engages with all areas of the brain. In fact, no other music form utilizes the brain as the classical music form.
Now as different areas of the brain are involved in producing different feel-good factors. Classical music activates all compartments of your brain establishes all forms of feel-good factor, together.
[Also Read: Hypnosis for Anxiety]
Metal lovers often claim the music genre to be calming. To non-metal lovers, the possibility of such is a mystery. However, the calming effect is true, but in an alternative way. The dense structure and high tempo of metal can insanely fire up your brain with too many activities.
Your brain with so many activities in progress drowns down your emotional feelings such as stress(2) and distress. Whilst doing so, also creating an emotional outlet.
[ Read: Grounding Techniques for Anxiety ]
Jazz, as a music form is highly experimental and improvisational. Jazz is known for a style, “call-and-response,” where musicians converse with each other through their music. This form of music makes the pattern and emotion open to interpretation.
Thus simulating those areas of your brain, responsible for perception and response. In terms of anxiety, with a better sense of perception and responsiveness, you become superior at tackling your anxiety.
[Also Read: Acupuncture for Anxiety]
4. Reggae, Hip-Hop, Pop, Techno, and Country
These music forms are grouped together, because of their common catchy, repetitive and constant backbeat. This constant catchy backbeat is the main playing factor.
As the beat plays throughout, your brain produces a consistent degree of dopamine throughout. With so much available dopamine, your brain sends a signal to interact with the music. As a result, with these genres, individuals feel like dancing and singing along.
Which are the Best Times to Listen to Music?
The stars, planets, and moons, have quite an impact on your emotions and intellect. Meaning, different times of a year, and different times of a day will impact your emotions and intellect as well. Hence, when it comes to music for anxiety, different genres find reception compatibility with your brain, depending on the time of the day.
For the early morning, between 6 am to 9 am, soft rock or classical happens to be the best genre. From 9 am – 12 noon, punk genre or reggae. Pop or country seems to be the best choice during the lunch hours whilst for the afternoon from 1 pm to 5 pm -Rock/Metal.
As the evening starts, from 5 pm to 8 pm, is generally considered the best time to listen to folk. Whereas, late in the evening at 8 pm, up to midnight, it is wiser to go with Hip-Hop. Finally, as you fall asleep, jazz is the best choice for you.
Music is definitely, a major way to reduce stress. Especially when doctors go around prescribing music therapy, there should be little to no reason in doubting it. And the best part, unlike medication or diets, music will have no side effects on you.
Except of course, if you are listening to Black Metal while driving. However, different music can have subtly different influences on your brain. And the different level of effectiveness, during different times of the day. Hence, in general music for anxiety is a wise choice, but you must be careful in selecting your genre and the time of the day.
1. Does Music Relieve Anxiety?
Of course, it does, and to the extent that it can be proven biologically. Using soothing music for anxiety is often a treatment opted even by professional therapists. These are particularly because of music’s influence on brain chemicals. Music reduces the stress hormone cortisol and increases the happiness hormone, dopamine.
2. What Music Is Best for Anxiety?
Now there is no fixed answer to it, as different genres have a different impact on the brain. For example, whilst classical music activates different areas and hormones in your brains, to release very form of feel-good factor. Metal can set in motion a string of activities, making our brain so busy that it drowns out your stress.
Additionally, different times of the day add to the effectiveness of genres as well. For example, if you plan to use the classical anxiety-reducing song, the best time is early morning. For Metal, however, late afternoon is better suited.
3. Does Music Make You Less Stressed?
Yes, it does, and for the same reasons, it reduces anxiety. As a matter of fact, anxiety is a direct effect of increased stress. Now as it reduces anxiety, it does by reducing the stress itself. Stress is biologically caused by the release of stress hormone Cortisol. Music inhibits this very stress hormone and reduces your stress.
4. Does Music Help Panic Attack?
Now using music for anxiety, in general, is one thing, but panic attacks are a completely different story. There is a difference between normal anxiety and panic attacks. True, anxiety leads to panic attacks, but fits of panic attacks are characterized with alarming distress and confusion.
During such a time not all genres of music will help you, especially not Metal, rock or classical. They will rather add to the distress and confusion. Calming instrumentals without vocals are often best for panic attacks. Your listening must not be a conscious one but a sub-conscious one.