Releasing Stress Through the Power of Music

Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Music is effective for relaxation and stress management.

Research confirms these personal experiences with music. Current findings indicate that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 – 14 hertz or cycles per second). This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. To induce sleep (a delta brainwave of 5 hertz), a person may need to devote at least 45 minutes, in a relaxed position, listening to calming music. Researchers at Stanford University (press release 2006) have said that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.

So what type of music reduces stress the best? A bit surprising is that Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical (the “largo” movement), and easy listening music. Since with music we are rarely told the beats per minute, how do you choose the relaxation music that is best for you? The answer partly rests with you: You must first like the music being played, and then it must relax you. You could start by simply exploring the music on this web page. Some may relax you, some may not. Forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that irritates you can create tension, not reduce it. If that happens, try looking for alternatives on the internet or consult with Counseling Service staff for other musical suggestions. It is important to remember that quieting your mind does not mean you will automatically feel sleepy. It means your brain and body are relaxed, and with your new calm self, you can then function at your best in many activities.

Experiment now. Take a few minute to experience a “sound bath,” and let the music carry you away.

A Moment of Peace Meditation

(Aneal & Bradfield, “Heaven and Earth Spirits” track from Life & Love), YouTube, lovely contemporary piano music with accompanying instruments and nature scenes, 3:36.

Echoes of Time

(C. Carlos Nakai from the Canyon Trilogy), YouTube, serene Native American flute music, with a picture of Nakai backlit by the sun at the Grand Canyon, 3:49.

The Winding Path

(Ken Kern from The Winding Path), YouTube, highly rated, beautiful piano music with accompanying instruments with pictures of exquisite flowers and plants, 3:59.

Classical Indian Music for Healing and Relaxing

(Gayatri Govindarajan, “Pure Deep Meditation” track), YouTube, lovely and rhythmic music played on the veena, the most ancient of the Indian plucked-instruments, with nature scenes, 4:12.

Angels of Venice – Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major

(Angels of Venice from Music for Harp, Flute and Cello), YouTube, classical with 3 instruments with nature pictures, 4:30.

Earth Drum

“Spirit Vision,” (David & Steve Gordon), YouTube, serene and lovely contemporary Native American informed-drumming music utilizing Taos Log Drum and Incan Pan along with other instruments and ocean/forest nature scenes, 6:30. (Other David & Steve Gordon music automatically starts after “Spirit Vision,” which you can listen to if you want).


Spa Relaxing Music Long Time Mp3 with Candle Light

YouTube, tranquil contemporary instrumental with piano and a fixed candle light, 42:42.

Relaxation Music

1 Hour Meditation Candle, YouTube, serene contemporary instrumental with piano and one flickering candle, 1:00:54.

Sleep Deeply

(Dan Gibson, multiple cd’s) YouTube, nature sounds and instrumental, tranquil sleep music, 41:00.

Thank you, University of Nevada. 

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