Why is music a good stress reliever?

Updated: May 10

Contrary to popular belief, music therapy is an old remedy that has been used for ages. Music has always been perceived as having particular healing powers and many scientific studies show that it plays on our emotions.

Listening music causes physiological and psychological changes

Listening to music produces changes in many cardio-respiratory, arterial or neuropsychological neurophysiological parameters. Several studies have shown a decrease in heart rate, heart variability, blood pressure and respiratory rate. In terms of neuropsychology, listening to music is also effective in combating anxiety, pain, and improving mood, quality of sleep and quality of life in people with cancer. The nature of these changes offers new perspectives in the medical field to promote relaxation, fight pain or depression, and explain the beneficial effect that music plays in the fight against stress.

Listening pleasure as the first factor in reducing stress

Although the pleasure of listening to music involves a significant part of subjectivity calling for the activation of the cortical and subcortical areas of the brain where emotions are processed, it would seem that other musical styles also induce physiological and psychological changes. The hypothesis is based on the idea that the subcortical auditory system, and in particular the brainstem, reflects the collective auditory experiences of an individual, including interactions with his lived experience, which have occurred in the past. Thus, the acoustic stimulation of heavy metal and jazz music also leads to a regulation of the nervous system by also acting on the sympathetic and parasympathetic modulation of the heart, while exposure to classical baroque music reduces the sympathetic system.

All of these results suggest the existence of a common mechanism of action interacting with the physiology of individuals. In general, acoustic stimulation by software processing can improve biological signals by acting on biological plasticity. These neurobiological effects induce improved performance in many cognitive domains such as linguistics, mathematics and spatial geometry with very interesting applications in the field of driving by promoting visual perception, attention, and motor control.

By Gil Borelli PhD in Physiology

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