If you turn up the tunes when you’re sitting in horrible Los Angeles traffic, then you know this to be true: Music has a powerful ability to reduce stress for some people. In fact, a number of studies have shown that music can help to reduce sickness, anxiety and distress.
Yep, music is powerful stuff. But before you start pumping a playlist, here’s some interesting research on which types of music will help you through stressful situations.
Cue This Up When You’re Nervous
Standing up to give a group presentation at work or a best man’s speech can give a lot of people the jitters. One study found that you should just pop in your ear buds and turn up Mozart in that situation. Students in the study were given the task of preparing an oral presentation, some of them with Pachelbel’s Canon in D playing and some without. While significant increases in subjective anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure were seen in control subjects (those with no music), these stress-induced increases were each prevented in students who listened to the classics prior to their presentation.
Music Before a Medical Procedure or Have a Headache, Migraine, or Illness
It’s understandable to feel stressed out before an important doctor’s appointment — or want to retreat to a quiet room during a migraine episode. But, music can help in these situations. One study found that patients who listened to instrumental Indian classical music before and during a diagnostic procedure, or during a pain episode, experienced reduced psychological distress and blood pressure.
Listen to This When You’re Down
There are other ways to take advantage of music’s powerful stress-busting effect. A study out of the U.K. showed that listening to happy, joyful dance music decreased stress hormone levels (high levels weaken the immune system). Study volunteers who played a percussive instrument along with the music also got the immunity boost. Translation: Go ahead and drum on the steering wheel when your favorite song comes on the radio — it could be good for you!
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