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The power of music: Researchers suggest songs that may relieve stress

Have you ever found yourself browsing your music player when you’re feeling down? Or searching through YouTube for the perfect song to party to with friends? Music has its way of complementing our feelings for the day.

Songs with fast beats can make us feel alive and positive with life. Some slow tempo songs can make us feel sorrowful while there are other music with slower tempo that can make us feel relaxed and reduce the stress we’re feeling.

According to a study conducted by researchers from BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore, Malaysia, they found out that their subjects experienced a dramatic reduction of stress and increased physical relaxation when they listened to music that played around 60 beats per minute (bpm).

Music around 60 bpm causes the brain to synchronize with the beat thus producing alpha brainwaves. These alpha brain waves are present when we are feeling relaxed.

For this, researchers believe that music really helps us to reduce stress and elevates our mood. But knowing what song will make you feel relaxed actually depends on what music you actually enjoy. Feeling comfortable with the music you’re listening to is one of the things you should look for when it comes to stress reducing music.

To find out what songs are stress relievers, a team of researchers from Sussex University in U.K is headed by Dr. David Lewis examined 17 relaxing songs including a special spa music for their potential to relieve tension as well as stress and compared the results to the effects of a massage.

music songs stress relieving
via MindLab
via MindLab

The researchers examined the subjects’ heart rates, breathing patterns, and overall stress levels and discovered that the following songs were the most effective at reducing stress and have a calming effect:

  1. Weightless – Marconi Union
  2. Electra – airstream
  3. Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix) – DJ Shah
  4. Watermark – Enya
  5. Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
  6. Please Don’t Go – Barcelona
  7. Pure Shores – All Saints
  8. Someone Like You – Adele
  9. Canzonetta Sull’aria – Mozart
  10. We Can Fly – Cafe Del Mar
  11. All I Need – Air
  12. Nine Million Bicycles – Katie Melua
  13. Undress Me Now – Morcheeba
  14. Porcelain – Moby
  15. Teardrop – Massive Attack
  16. Upside Down – Jack Johnson
  17. Sæglópur – Sigur Rós

While all of the songs reduce the stress of the participants, the spa track is the most effective one when it comes to reducing stress. The song ‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union is actually recommended by Radox Spa. It achieved a relaxation score of 73% and a 6% increase on the relaxing effects of a massage.

So what makes the song ‘Weightless’ relaxing? According to the founder of the British Academy of sound music Lyz Cooper, the rhythm of the music is what makes it relaxing. It progressively slows from 60 to 50 bpm causing the listener’s heart rate to reduce along with it.

‘There is no repeating melody, which allows your brain to completely switch off because you are no longer trying to predict what is coming next,’ said Cooper to Forbes magazine.

Listen to ‘Weightless’ to find out if this song also induces you with relaxing feelings.

If music can’t help you ease the stress, pain, and trouble you’re feeling, know that there are people and things out there that can make you feel less terrible.

National Mental Health Crisis Hotline

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