We all have our favorite songs for certain moods – when we’re feeling happy, when we’re celebrating, when we’re falling in love or cherishing the love we have, and even when we’re feeling blue. But what about when we’re feeling anxious?
Everyone knows that anxiety and stress take a toll on your mood and your day, but high levels of anxiousness and stress over prolonged periods also affect your health. Stress can exacerbate or increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. Even more concerning is a recent study from Harvard and Stanford, which found health issues from job stress alone now cause more deaths than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza.
Here’s the good news – recent research from neuroscientists in the U.K. has tapped into a music playlist that is scientifically proven to put you in a state of relaxation.
The research study centered on participants as they attempted to solve difficult puzzles as quickly as possible. The puzzles induced a certain level of stress, and participants listened to different songs while they attempted the tasks. Throughout the study, participants wore sensors that allowed researchers to measure brain activity and physiological states like heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing.
From this research, scientists identified a song that produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date. When participants listened to the song – “Weightless” – they experienced an incredible 65 percent reduction in overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates. What is equally interesting is that “Weightless” was written and orchestrated to do just that.
Marconi Union, the band behind “Weightless,” composed the song with the assistance of sound therapists. The carefully arranged rhythms, harmonies, and bass lines of the song help to slow listeners’ heart rates, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. “Weightless” was so effective in producing calming effects that the head researcher noted many participants became drowsy while listening to it. Talk about a song to chill to!
In this age of feeling the need to be constantly “plugged in,” stress can creep up both on the job and in everyday life. When you feel your anxiety level rising, try listening to “Weightless” or one of the nine other songs identified as effective in calming your mood and relaxing your thoughts. From Mozart to Coldplay to Adele, the songs are varied in time and structure but produce the same beneficial results. The top ten stress relieving songs are listed below. Give a listen, and consider using these in your own relaxation playlist. Your body and mind will be glad you did.
- “Weightless,” by Marconi Union
- “Electra,” by Airstream
- “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah
- “Watermark,” by Enya
- “Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay
- “Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona
- “Pure Shores,” by All Saints
- “Someone Like You,” by Adele
- “Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart
- “We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (Café Del Mar)