Reduce Stress With Music Blog

6 Ways to Reduce Stress with Music

During this time in our society, there are people experiencing many emotions such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Finding appropriate outlets and ways to express yourself could be hard or difficult. The use of music has been shown to help people who experience depression, stress, and anxiety relieve their symptoms and improve their daily lives – there are lots of ways to reduce stress using music! You may think music therapy may not be for you but most everyone responds and relates to music regardless of race, language or background. 

This blog post addresses how use of music can assist those who experience depression, stress and anxiety. This last year has been unbelievably hard and everyone has been through it. No matter what stage of your life, school, or career you are in, use music to make your life better! Use these tools to help you reduce stress, anxiety or depression in your life using music.

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1. Sing Your Favorite Song

Music can evoke different emotions based on your experiences. Listening to your favorite song could evoke positive emotions or a positive memory. There is likely a memory associated with your favorite song. Whether it’s listening to that song for the first time, hearing it live, or listening to it with loved ones, music can remind you of a person or time in your life. When listening to My Girl by The Temptations, I am reminded of my mom. She would sing that song to me when I was younger and that reminds me of happy times during my childhood. Everytime I sing that song, there’s a smile on my face! Enjoying something you love could help to alleviate your mood or help to reduce your stress levels.

2. Listen to Relaxing Music

Everyone has a different definition of what is relaxing to them. To a random person, relaxing music could be a Metallica song. An example of relaxing music for me would be instrumental violin music. Listening to something I like and find calming helps to reduce my anxiety and stress levels. There is a bit of self awareness that is required to find the right relaxing music for you. I typically like to do what I call a “Musical Reset” while listening to relaxing music. This is similar to Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

Here are the steps for a musical reset:

  • Begin by clearing your mind, focusing on the music, and regulating your breathing. 
  • Once you begin to feel relaxed, take a deep breath in and hold it for 5 seconds and then release. 
  • Do this step again.
  • Next, release the tension in your neck and shoulders. 
  • Take in another deep breath and hold your breath for 10 seconds. 
  • Do this step again. 
  • Next, become aware of your face and relax those muscles and remove any tension. 
  • Take a deep breath in and hold for 10 seconds. 
  • While you exhale, release all of the tension from your body.

This is a quick and easy way to relieve your stress whether you’re at work or in your car!

3. Dance to Music

Dancing is a great way to do something physical while listening to music. I am not a dancer, I would NEVER teach anyone how to dance or do it on camera but moving your body in response to the music can freeing. It’s also a great way to exercise! Exercising releases endorphins which is great for those who are experiencing depression. I recommend finding a workout playlist or a song that always gets you hyped up and ready to go. Starting your day off with a little jig or dance routine can motivate you to make it through the day.  

4. Make Your Song a Mantra

Music can help motivate you when you feel depressed or the stressors of life have become alot to deal with. Every song has a topic, theme or message in the lyrics and music. Find a song that has a line or chorus that encourages and motivates you! I’ll use the song Try Everything by shakira from Zootopia as an example. I use this song for my personal motivation. In the song, Shakira says 

“I won’t give up, 

I won’t give in until I reach the end 

And then I’ll start again

No, I won’t leave

I want to try everything

I want to try even though I could fail”

Not giving up despite how hard things may be is difficult but singing this song and owning it as my mantra has helped to reduce my anxiety and stress levels. You could even change the lyrics of your song to make it more personal. Once you pick your song, own it and make your mantra!

5. Create a Playlist

I suggest creating a playlist with your favorite songs or upbeat songs. While I worked in fast food during the pandemic, I had an upbeat songs playlist. I’d relax after a long day of work and listen to music while I was in my car, bath tub, or in my bed to try to relax and release the stress from the day. If you don’t have a playlist or you don’t know where to start, I recommend using a music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. Find one of your favorite songs and after listening to that song, the services usually recommend songs that are similar to those or by the same artist. You can also use a premade playlist as well.

6. Music Therapy

As a Music therapy intern, I would be remiss to not mention the use of music therapy to reduce your depression and anxiety. Music therapy is the clinical & evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program (American Music Therapy Association, 2005). Music therapists have assisted in the mental health field since World War II when music therapists worked with veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The American Music Therapy Association which lists the following as documented outcomes in music therapy:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships
  • Increased motivation
  • Successful and safe emotional release

(American Music Therapy Association, Music Therapy and Mental Health 2006)

This could be in the form of songwriting, lyric analysis, or active music making. Due to the pandemic, Music therapy services can be offered online via teletherapy, depending on the practice. I suggest giving it a try! 

Do you have any other ways to reduce stress using music that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments!

Resources

American Music Therapy Association. (2005). What is Music Therapy? American Music Therapy Association. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/. 

American Music Therapy Association Inc. (2006). Music Therapy and Mental Health. MT Mental Health 2006. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Mental_Health_2006.pdf. 

Shakira. (2016). Try Everything [Song]. On Zootopia: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Walt Disney.

Amber Patterson, MTI

Music Therapy Intern

amber@heartandharmony.com