A beautiful song has the power to touch our souls, but did you know listening to music also impacts us in other ways? It can relax even the most highly strung person, those with depression experience brief moments of joy, and lonely people feel less solitary.
It helps you on so many different levels that there are plenty of reasons to ‘Put Your Records On’, as the song goes.
Music makes you smarter. US scientists demonstrated way back in 1993 that listening to music by Mozart or other classical composers temporarily boosts brainpower – this is known as the ‘Mozart effect’.
Music can help with depression. When we’re listening to music our brain releases certain chemicals that make us happier and more cheerful. Dopamine, for example, gives you a sense of contentment, while endorphins are the ‘feel-good’ chemicals that make you feel happy.
Music lowers blood pressure. In his book Singing in the Brain, Dutch clinical neuropsychologist Erik Scherder explains how listening to music we enjoy stimulates the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels and can help reduce blood pressure.
Music reduces stress levels. A 2015 Cochrane review reveals that songs with a maximum of between 60 and 80 beats per minute help lower our heart rate, relax our breathing and reduce blood pressure and muscle tension. Your stress levels will plummet and your sleep will improve.
Music relieves loneliness. Listening to music with others or – better still – getting together with a group of people to sing in a choir or other musical ensemble promotes a sense of unity. This is enhanced by the release of oxytocin. Nicknamed the ‘love hormone’, this chemical increases empathy.
Whether you want to start out the day feeling relaxed or wind down after a busy day, music can give you the peace of mind you need at various times of the day. Music has a calming effect, but it is a powerful force in other ways as well: high-energy tracks can make you more alert, so you’ll find it easier to focus, while slower music can help you clear your mind and relax your muscles. When listening to relaxing music, your body releases endorphins, while at the same time reducing the production of stress hormones. This improves your mood and promotes an overall sense of calmness and wellbeing.
Ultimate relaxation at any time of the day
The type of music that can help us relax is different for everyone. The key is to listen to music whose rhythm matches your heartbeat – the actual song you choose to listen to, however, is entirely up to you. Try experimenting with different types of music to discover what music has the most relaxing effect on you. The right kind of calming music can even help you at bedtime. We don’t all drift off into a deep slumber as soon as we hit the pillow, and a well-chosen piece of music can help us relax completely. Many people tend to forget that music also plays an important role in calming down during your post-workout recovery. We recommend that you pick songs with a steady rhythm of 140 beats per minute.
Most relaxing music ever
Songs that start with 60 beats per minute and slow down to 50 beats per minute after five minutes, so that your heartbeat automatically adjusts to the rhythm and you can relax completely – this qualifies as the most relaxing music ever. The song Weightless by Marconi Union ticks all of these boxes. The song was composed (based on various scientific theories and sounds) especially to promote maximum relaxation and is (officially!) the most relaxing piece of music ever produced. Another composition that will help you relax like nothing else is Air by Johann Sebastian Bach. This piece of music slows down your breathing, reduces muscle tension and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
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