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“Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song
Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65 Percent”
By Melanie Curtin
“Everyone knows they need to manage their stress. When things get difficult at work, school, or in your personal life, you can use as many tips, tricks, and techniques as you can get to calm your nerves. So here’s a science-backed one: make a playlist of the 10 songs found to be the most relaxing on earth. Sound therapies have long been popular as a way of relaxing and restoring one’s health. For centuries, indigenous cultures have used music to enhance well-being and improve health conditions.
Now, neuroscientists out of the UK have specified which tunes give you the most bang for your musical buck. The study was conducted on participants who attempted to solve difficult puzzles as quickly as possible while connected to sensors. The puzzles induced a certain level of stress, and participants listened to different songs while researchers measured brain activity as well as physiological states that included heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing.
According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, the top song produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date. In fact, listening to that one song- “Weightless”- resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates. That is remarkable.
Equally remarkable is the fact the song was actually constructed to do so. The group that created “Weightless”, Marconi Union, did so in collaboration with sound therapists. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
When it comes to lowering anxiety, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Stress either exacerbates or increases the risk of health issues like heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, and more. More troubling still, a recent paper out of Harvard and Stanford found health issues from job stress alone cause more deaths than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza.
In this age of constant bombardment, the science is clear: if you want your mind and body to last, you’ve got to prioritize giving them a rest. Music is an easy way to take some of the pressure off of all the pings, dings, apps, tags, texts, emails, appointments, meetings, and deadlines that can easily spike your stress level and leave you feeling drained and anxious.
Of the top track, Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson said, “‘Weightless’ was so effective, many women became drowsy and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.” So don’t drive while listening to these, but do take advantage of them:
10. “We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (Café Del Mar)
9. “Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart
8. “Someone Like You,” by Adele
7. “Pure Shores,” by All Saints
6. “Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona
5. “Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay
4. “Watermark,” by Enya
3. “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah
2. “Electra,” by Airstream
1. “Weightless,” by Marconi Union
I made a public playlist of all of them on Spotify that runs about 50 minutes (it’s also downloadable).”