Music as Anxiety Relief
In my last post, I touched on music for anxiety relief. I want to do the same today, albeit from a different direction. My previous post focused exclusively on the impact of one specific song. This time, I want to talk about the impact of music for anxiety relief in a more general sense.
My Love of Music and Its Effects for Anxiety Relief
I'm not exaggerating when I say I don’t remember a time when music was not a part of my life. My earliest childhood memory is listening to Abbey Road at my old house. I always had some sort of tape or CD playing at night as I fell asleep, a practice that I continue to this day. My music collection is currently approaching 1,700 albums and 20,000 songs.
For me, music is not just a fun pastime – it’s a lifeline to mental wellbeing ("Have You Tried Music Therapy to Help Your Mental Health?"). Feeling bombarded by stress on what is basically a 24/7 loop isn’t fun, and it’s something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. But if I have music playing whenever I’m doing something else, I feel as though I am slightly more capable of taking on the world. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it’s an invaluable gain. For that reason, I literally always have a pair of headphones on me wherever I go, and I drop everything and immediately replace them if they stop working. For me, access to music is my security blanket.
The Benefits of Music in Anxiety Relief
There are far too many positive benefits of music for anxiety relief to discuss them all here in detail – entire books have been written on the subject. I’ll focus on a few that have made the most impact on my own life.
I mentioned in a previous paragraph that I’ve had music playing as I sleep since I was very young. I never thought about why that may be, other than the fact that I just love music. Thinking on it now, it’s possible that I’m uncomfortable with the prolonged silence sleep affords. In long stretches of silence I’m alone with my own thoughts and my thoughts are often unkind. Music drowns them out, directing my attention to other voices, ones that are unconditionally positive and comforting.
Though some may find sleeping with any kind of sound counterproductive, research has shown the positive effects of playing music while sleeping. A study of 94 sleep-deprived students aged 19 to 28 split the subjects into three groups – one group listened to 45 minutes of classical music at bedtime, while the other two listened to an audiobook and nothing, respectively. The music group saw statistically significant improvements in sleep and decreases in feelings of depression – the other two saw no change.1
The above study exclusively used classical music, a type of music I rarely listen to. My genre of choice is metal, which is something very few of you would likely find relaxing. I admit finding metal relaxing seems odd but I find it the musical equivalent of catharsis. Aristotle argued that we find enjoyment in watching the brutality of tragedies because their intensity purges us of negative feelings. The brutality of metal, likewise, can be seen to purge us of tension, leaving us drained when we finish listening.2
I could go on and on, but I’ll end by giving a few short tips on music for anxiety relief. Try what I do. Put on music as you’re going to sleep. Buy a pair of headphones and keep them with you. When you get anxious, put them on and let the music drown everything else out. I can’t promise they’ll make your problem disappear completely, but I guarantee you they will make your day to day struggles more manageable.
- "Listening to Music Helps with My Schizoaffective Disorder"
- "Music to Help Ease Adult ADHD Moods"
- "How I'm Overcoming My Fear of Driving with Music"
- Baker, Danielle M., "The Scientific Benefits of Music". Science of People. Accessed January 14, 2019.
- Cansdale, Dominic, "How Heavy Metal and Head Banging Can Help Your Mental Health." ABC. February 19, 2018.
DeSalvo, T. (2019, January 16). Music as Anxiety Relief, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/1/music-as-anxiety-relief