George Eliot said that "life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.” 

Music has the ability to affect both psychological and physical processes and is highly effective in reducing stress. Most people, when asked what they do when they are stressed, will mention music as one one of their strategies of stress reduction. Soothing music accompanies relaxation tapes. Mothers sing to infants and children (sometimes before they are born) to calm, soothe, and reassure them. Music is an integral part of the human experience.History records man's use of music as a stress-reliever throughout time.

Music reduces anxiety. It increases relaxation and calmness. And people enjoy music--it creates pleasure. Studies show that listening to music produces physical changes in the heart rate, skin temperature, and muscle relaxation. The roots of auditory nerves (hearing) are more widely distributed and connected than other nerves in the body. Music affects digestion, circulation, organ functioning, and respiration. This occurs two ways: the immediate effect of music on cells and organs and its effect on emotions which then have an effect on physical functioning. Even plants respond to music. When you have music in the background, your stress responses are reduced and you are better able to relax when stressed.

Benefits of listening to music:
  • Changes in brainwaves - slower tempo promotes calmness
  • Stabilizes brain functions and continues when you are no longer listening to music
  • Alters breathing and heart rates 
  • Brings about the relaxation response
  • Produces a positive state of mind
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Enhances creativity
  • Increases optimism
  • Helps in pain management
  • Improves mood
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases concentration
  • Improves surgical outcome when patients listen to music before surgery

Classical music is one of the best types of music for relaxation. Some suggested composers are Bach, Haydn, Handel, Vivaldi, and Mozart. The music of Mozart has been so effective that the term "Mozart Effect" was coined to describe the positive effects of listening to this music. It results in increased levels of alpha brainwave activity that is similar to increases during relaxation, hypnosis, and meditation. Pachelbel's Canon is another piece of music that is very popular for its ability to help people relax.

Music has a powerful and positive effect on you. Finding music that you like and that relaxes you is an important part of your plan to reduce stress, maintain calm, and better care for yourself.


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