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mental health / wellness

Music for Stress Relief

by BetterSleep
Oct 28 2022 • 16 min read

Music has long been known to be a powerful stress reliever. In fact, music is one of the most commonly used tools for stress reduction. There are many different ways that music can be used for stress relief.

Some people find that listening to calm, relaxing music helps to reduce their stress levels. Others may prefer to listen to music with a faster tempo in order to help them get out of their head and into the music.

No matter what type of music you enjoy, there are likely ways that it can help you to reduce stress. Read on to learn more about music as an effective tool for stress relief.

Benefits of Listening to Music for Stress Management

Music has been shown to have a profound effect on the brain and body. The stress response to music listening is the reduction in the stress hormone cortisol levels and decreased feelings of anxiety. It can also activate the body’s natural relaxation response, leading to physical and mental relaxation.

Additionally, relaxing music can be used in mental health treatment. It can provide a distraction from negative thoughts and serve as a form of emotional release. Overall, incorporating music into your self-care routine can be a simple and effective way to manage stress. Some other benefits of music as a stress reliever include:

Improved Mood and Reduced Anxiety

One of the benefits of listening to music for stress management is improved mood and reduced anxiety. Research has shown that listening to music can positively impact our brain chemistry, leading to an elevated mood and decreased feelings of anxiety.

In addition, music can serve as a distraction from negative thoughts and emotions, providing a temporary reprieve from chronic stress. Additionally, the act of engaging in an enjoyable activity, such as listening to music, can also improve overall mood and reduce stress.

Improved Cognitive Performance and Increased Productivity

Studies have shown that listening to music can improve focus and attention, enhance memory, and stimulate creativity. In a work or school setting, these effects can lead to improved task performance and higher-quality work.

Additionally, managing stress through music can also lead to increased motivation and productivity. By reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, individuals are able to approach tasks with a clearer and more positive mindset, resulting in greater productivity.

Improved Sleep Quality

Research has shown that listening to relaxing music before bed can help induce a state of relaxation and reduce racing thoughts, leading to a more restful night’s sleep. In addition, music can also serve as a form of white noise, blocking out disruptive sounds and promoting better sleep.

Incorporating music into your bedtime routine can help improve the overall quality of your sleep and leave you feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Increased Physical Relaxation and Improved Cardiovascular Health

Another benefit of listening to music for stress management is increased physical relaxation and improved cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that listening to soothing music can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels.

This can lead to a state of physical relaxation and improved overall cardiovascular health. Additionally, music has been found to reduce the release of stress hormones like cortisol, decreasing stress and tension in the body.

Therefore, incorporating music into a stress management routine can improve one’s emotional well-being and physical health.

Enhanced Immune System Function

One key benefit of listening to music for stress management is improved immune system function. Studies have shown that music can decrease the body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that suppresses the immune system.

In addition, music has been found to increase the activity of natural killer cells, which are an important part of the immune system’s defense against viruses and tumors. Therefore, incorporating music into a stress management routine can not only reduce stress at the moment but also improve overall health and well-being.

Techniques for Incorporating Music into Your Stress Management Routine

There are a number of different ways to use music for stress relief, and you can experiment to find what works best for you. Some popular methods for using music in your stress management routine include:

Incorporate Music into Your Daily Routine

One way to incorporate music into your daily routine as a stress management technique is to listen to calming or uplifting music while practicing deep breathing or meditation. This can help to relax the body and clear the mind, reducing stress levels.

Another idea is to have a designated time each day for listening to music, whether it be during a workout or while cooking dinner. Music can serve as a distraction from daily tasks and responsibilities, providing a much-needed break from stressful situations. Additionally, listening to music can also improve mood and boost overall feelings of happiness and positivity.

You can also use music as a form of active relaxation by engaging in physical activities such as yoga or meditation while listening to calming tunes. Overall, incorporating music into your daily routine as a stress management tactic can enhance relaxation and promote emotional well-being.

Experiment with Different Types of Music to Find What Relaxes You the Most

One technique for incorporating music into your stress management routine is to experiment with different types of music to find what relaxes you the most. This could include classical, nature sounds, instrumental or vocal music, or even a specific genre like jazz or indie.

Taking some time to listen and pay attention to how different types of music make you feel can help you determine which ones have a calming effect on your mind and emotions. Once you have found some go-to options, you can incorporate them into your stress management routine by setting aside time each day to listen to them or even creating a playlist for when you need an extra dose of relaxation.

Create a Stress Management Playlist

One technique for incorporating music into a stress management routine is creating a personalized stress management playlist. This can be done by selecting calming or uplifting songs that bring about a sense of peace and relaxation.

It is important to choose songs that have personal significance or meaning, as individual connections to music can enhance its stress-reducing effects. The playlist can be played during times of elevated stress or used as part of a relaxation exercise such as deep breathing or guided imagery. In addition to creating a playlist, taking time to listen and engage with the music can also be beneficial for managing stress.

This may involve actively listening and paying attention to the lyrics and sounds or using the music as background noise while engaging in another relaxing activity, such as journaling or stretching.

Listen to Calming Music Before Bedtime

Listening to calming music before bedtime can help relax the body and mind, leading to a more restful sleep. It can also serve as a form of distraction from racing thoughts or anxiety before falling asleep.

Additionally, creating a consistent bedtime routine that includes calming music can signal the brain and body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. It is important to experiment with different types of music to find what works best for you personally.

Use Music as a Way to Focus and Concentrate While Working or Studying

One way to incorporate music into your stress management routine is by using it as a tool to focus and concentrate while working or studying. Listening to music can have a calming effect and help block out distractions, improving concentration and productivity. It can also increase motivation and improve mood, leading to a more positive and productive work or study session.

When selecting music for this purpose, it’s important to choose songs without lyrics, as lyrics can be distracting. Instrumental music or ambient noise tracks (such as the sound of rain or waves crashing) can also be effective. It may also be helpful to create a playlist specifically for this purpose so that you have a go-to selection of music ready when you need it.

It’s important to experiment with different types of music and find what works best for you individually. Sometimes classical music or nature sounds may work better for some, while others may find electronic or instrumental versions of their favorite songs more conducive to focus. But regardless of the specific type of music chosen, using it as a tool for focus and concentration can greatly benefit your stress management routine.

Add Binaural Beats to Music

Binaural beats are an auditory illusion created when two different tones are played simultaneously, with one tone played in each ear. The brain then processes these signals, creating a third tone, the difference between the two frequencies.

For example, if a tone of 400 Hz is played in one ear and a tone of 410 Hz is played in the other, the brain will interpret this as a 10 Hz binaural beat. Studies have shown that binaural beats can have a variety of different effects on the brain, ranging from relaxation and stress relief to improved focus and concentration.

And while binaural beats are most commonly experienced through headphones, they can also be added to music to create an even more relaxing experience. So if you’re looking for a way to unwind and de-stress, try adding some binaural beats to your music playlist.

Take Advantage of Online Resources that Offer Guided Relaxation Exercises with Accompanying Music

One technique for incorporating music into your stress management routine is taking advantage of online resources that offer guided relaxation exercises with accompanying music. These resources provide a structure for relaxation, allowing you to focus on the exercise instead of having to choose and play music yourself.

Additionally, the music serves as a tool to enhance the relaxation experience, potentially leading to even greater stress relief. When searching for these resources, look for ones that include soothing, calming music and allow you to tailor the length of the exercise to fit your schedule.

Several excellent pieces of music and sounds for meditation, stress alleviation and anxiety reduction are available on the BetterSleep app.

Different Types of Calming Music That are Helpful in Managing Stress

When it comes to managing stress, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person may not work for another. However, one approach that can be helpful for many people is listening to calming music. There are a variety of different genres that can be effective in reducing stress, including classical, jazz, and nature sounds.

Each person may find that they respond differently to different types of music. For example, some people may find that classical music helps them to focus, while others may prefer the relaxing effects of jazz. Nature sounds can also be helpful in reducing stress levels, as they can help to create a sense of tranquility.

Experiment with different genres of music to find what works best for you. You may be surprised at how much of a difference it can make. Here are some styles of music that can reduce stress:

Classical Music

Classical music has been shown to be one of the most calming genres of music. It has been found to be helpful in managing stress due to its slow tempo and intricate harmonies. Studies have shown that listening to classical music can lead to decreased levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

Additionally, classical music has been found to improve focus and concentration, leading to an overall decrease in stress levels. Listening to classical music can also provide a sense of comfort and relaxation, further aiding in stress management.

Jazz Music

Jazz music has long been known for its smooth and soothing sounds. Its relaxing melodies and improvisational nature can help to ease stress and promote a sense of calmness. Studies have shown that listening to jazz can lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate, leading to a more relaxed state.

Additionally, the complex harmonies and rhythms found in jazz can engage the listener’s brain, providing a form of mental stimulation and distraction from daily stresses. Overall, incorporating jazz into a stress management routine can be a helpful tool in promoting relaxation and reducing tension.

Nature Sounds

Nature sounds are a great way to achieve peace and relaxation. Sounds of flowing water or chirping birds can be incredibly calming and soothing for stress management. Research has shown that nature sounds can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower blood pressure.

Additionally, immersing oneself in the natural world can increase feelings of self-esteem and connectedness. Nature sounds can be easily accessed through recordings or mobile apps like the BetterSleep app, allowing for easy incorporation into a daily stress management routine.

Soft Instrumental Music

Soft instrumental music, such as classical piano or guitar pieces, can be extremely calming and helpful in managing stress. This type of music often has a slower tempo and gentle melody, allowing the listener to relax and focus on their breathing and release any built-up tension in their body.

Instrumental music also does not have lyrics, which can sometimes be distracting and overly stimulating for someone trying to calm their mind. This type of music can also help to create a peaceful environment, making it easier for someone to relax and unwind.

White Noise

White noise, which is a mixture of sounds at various frequencies, can be a useful tool in managing stress. It can effectively block out distracting background noises, allowing the listener to focus and relax.

Research has also shown that it can improve sleep quality and provide relief for those with tinnitus. Additionally, white noise can have a soothing and calming effect on the nervous system, helping to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

How to Create a Personal Playlist for Stress Relief

Choose Songs That Make You Feel Good

To start, it is important to identify what music or songs have a positive effect on your mood. This can be done by thinking about past experiences with music and how it made you feel or even conducting a trial run where you listen to different types of music and take note of which ones make you feel more relaxed.

Once you have a general idea of the type of music that helps improve your mood, begin curating your playlist by selecting songs that fit this category. Another helpful tip is to include a variety of genres and tempos in your playlist, as slower, relaxing songs can provide an overall calming effect. In contrast, upbeat songs can provide a boost of energy and positivity.

Finally, don’t be afraid to add new songs to your playlist as you discover them or make changes if certain songs no longer have the desired effect on your mood. Creating a personal playlist with music that positively impacts your mood will give you a go-to source for stress relief.

Avoid Songs That Make You Feel Anxious

While creating a personal playlist for stress relief, you should remove any songs that make you feel anxious. Rather, include songs that have slower tempos and calming melodies. It’s also important to choose lyrics that inspire relaxation and positive thinking.

Additionally, consider incorporating music from various genres, such as classical, nature sounds, or meditation music. Think about what types of music bring you peace and add them to the playlist.

Add Some Ambient Noise or Nature Sounds for Extra Relaxation

Incorporating ambient noise or nature sounds into a personal stress-relief playlist can provide even more relaxation. These types of sounds, such as the sound of rain or gentle ocean waves, can enhance the calming effects of music by creating a more immersive and peaceful environment.

Additionally, studies have shown that exposure to natural sounds can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase energy and focus. To incorporate these sounds into your playlist, consider using a specific streaming service or app that offers nature sound options.

You should also experiment with different sounds to find which works best for you to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

How Does Music Affect Your Brain?

It’s no secret that music can have a powerful effect on our emotions. A slow, sad song can make us feel melancholy, while an upbeat tune can put us in a good mood. But music can also affect the way our brains function. Studies have shown that music can influence our heart rate, breathing, and even the release of hormones.

So how does music affect the brain? One way is by stimulating the release of dopamine, a chemical that helps to regulate mood and pleasure, which helps to relieve stress. Research has shown that listening to music can increase dopamine levels in the brain, which may explain the release of built-up tension in our bodies after listening to our favorite tunes.

Our ears pick up the vibrations of music sounds as they travel. The inner ear then produces electrical signals from these vibrations. Following that, neurons send these signals to particular regions of the brain’s cerebral cortex. The various components of the signals (like the pitch, rhythm, and tone) are then detected by specific brain regions.

Additionally, as the brain combines all of this data to allow you to feel the musical experience, it has the power to affect our emotions and biological functions. This explains why we may feel more emotional when listening to certain types of music.

In addition to its emotional effects, music also has some cognitive benefits.

Studies have shown that listening to music can improve memory and attention span. It can also help us to better process information and find creative solutions to problems. So next time you need a mental boost, try putting on your favorite tunes. You just might find that it helps you think more clearly!

Effects of Different Types of Music on the Brain

There have been numerous studies examining the effects of different types of music on the brain. It has been found that listening to relaxing music can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase serotonin and dopamine, leading to decreased anxiety and improved mood. Upbeat, fast-paced music can also release dopamine and increase alertness and concentration.

On the other hand, loud or repetitive music can lead to increased stress and distraction, potentially impacting memory and cognitive performance. Additionally, certain types of music with aggressive lyrics have been linked to increased aggression in listeners.

Overall, the effects of music on the brain vary depending on individual preferences and the specific type of music being listened to. It is important to choose calming or uplifting music for relaxation and focus while avoiding loud or aggressive music that may negatively impact mood and cognition.

Classical Music Can Improve Cognitive Function and Memory

One study found that listening to classical music can improve cognitive function and memory, specifically in older adults. In the study, participants who listened to classical music for one hour a day showed improved memory and attention abilities compared to those who did not listen to any music. Additionally, brain imaging revealed increased activity in the areas of the brain responsible for cognitive function and memory.

Other studies have also shown that classical music can enhance cognitive performance in both children and adults. One study found that college students who listened to classical music while studying had better memory recall than those who studied in silence or with background noise. In children, another study found that playing classical music during math lessons improved their mathematical reasoning skills.

While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of classical music on cognitive function and memory, these studies suggest that incorporating classical music into daily activities may enhance cognitive performance.

Jazz Music Can Increase Creativity and Productivity

Jazz music has been found to increase creativity and productivity in individuals due to its complex harmonies and improvisational nature. The brain is constantly making new connections while listening to jazz, which can lead to more creative thinking.

Also, the relaxed yet focused state induced by jazz can improve concentration and allow for deeper work. So next time you’re feeling stuck on a project, try putting on some smooth jazz and see if it helps boost your creativity and productivity.

Pop Music Can Boost Mood and Energy Levels

Pop, upbeat music with catchy melodies, can have a positive effect on mood and energy levels. Studies have shown that listening to this type of music can increase dopamine levels in the brain, leading to feelings of pleasure and motivation. Additionally, pop songs often have uplifting lyrics which can further enhance one’s mood.

Rock Music Can Increase Focus and Concentration

Rock music has been shown to increase focus and concentration in various studies. One study found that college students who listened to rock music while completing a difficult task had better performance and increased focus compared to those who did not listen to any music at all. Another study found that rock music with a faster tempo and louder volume helped office workers become more productive and focused on their tasks.

Additionally, rock music has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, which can also enhance focus and concentration in individuals. However, it is important to note that the effects of rock music on focus and concentration may vary from person to person, as individual preferences for music play a role in its effectiveness in enhancing cognitive performance.

Country Music Can Reduce Stress Levels

Country music has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain, potentially reducing stress levels. One study found that listening to country music lowered the stress hormone cortisol in participants. In addition, country music has been found to slow heart rate and improve mood.

This calming effect may be due to the slower tempo and emotional lyrics commonly found in country songs. So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, try putting on some country music and letting it work its soothing magic.

Tips for Using Music as a Form of Stress Relief

Music has long been known to have a calming effect on the mind and body. In fact, music therapy is often used as a form of treatment for stress, anxiety, and even depression. If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress in your life, here are a few tips for using music as a form of stress relief:

  • Choose the right type of music. Not all music is created equal when it comes to stress relief. The best type of music for reducing stress is slow and relaxing, without any lyrics that could potentially add to your anxiety.
  • Listen at a moderate volume. You don’t want the music to be too loud or too soft - just loud enough to help you focus and relax.
  • Use headphones if possible. This will help you block out any external noise that could potentially add to your stress levels.
  • Take some deep breaths and close your eyes. As you listen to the music, focus on taking deep, slow breaths and allow your body to relax.
  • Let the music wash over you. Don’t try to actively think about anything-just let the music wash over you and allow it to calm your mind and body.


It is important to find healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress in our lives. Music can be a powerful tool for relaxation and stress relief, and it is worth experimenting with incorporating it into your stress management routine. When choosing music for stress relief, selecting the right type of music and listening at a moderate volume is important. Also, binaural beats are now making music specifically designed to help with relaxation, which can also be effective.

Remember to listen to music that brings you peace and positivity, and allow yourself the time and space to truly relax and recharge. If you need some help getting music and sounds for stress relief, try the BetterSleep app

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