The Power of Music and Audio in Relieving Stress

At Pressure Cooker Studios, we know that Music and Sound can have a profound effect on both our emotions and our bodies.

While we spend a lot of our time composing music or creating soundtracks that create feelings of suspense and intrigue, we know how powerful Music and Sound are in triggering feelings of calmness.
There is solid scientific research behind the calming effect they have on our brains. We enjoyed doing some reading and listening to dig deeper into the science behind this.

Today is World Stress Awareness Day, so let’s delve into some of the ways Music and Sound can help us destress:

Our Complex Auditory System

Sound is all around us, whether we realize it or not. From the whispering wind in the trees to the chirping of birds or the city’s bustling noise, sound plays a vital role in our lives. Our ears are designed to pick up on different soundscapes, and our brains process these sounds in various ways.

If you want to know more about how your auditory system works to convert sound waves to neural signals – watch this video:

During an Interview on a RadioLab podcast, psychologist Anne Fernald says ‘sound is touch at a distance’. Sound waves literally touch the bones in our ears and cause them to vibrate.
(Listen to the full podcast here).

Sound: A Fundamental Force

One of the fundamental ways sound affects us is through our stress response. Think about the soothing sounds of ocean waves, the rhythmic pitter-patter of rain, or the delightful songs of birds. These sounds have the power to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone. They trigger our relaxation response, slowing our heart rate and releasing muscle tension, which ultimately leads to a feeling of calm.

Music: The Universal Language of Emotion

Music, an intricate blend of sounds, holds a special place in our lives, it is woven deeply into the fabric of our being. Music is often described as a universal language that transcends age, culture, and language barriers. The emotional impact of music is undeniable, and it stems from its ability to convey a broad spectrum of feelings, from joy and excitement to sadness and nostalgia.

The neurological science behind music’s emotional sway is captivating. When we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. This neurological response is what makes music so inherently pleasurable. Moreover, music activates multiple regions of our brain, including those linked to memory, emotion, and motor function. This interaction among brain areas allows music to elicit intense emotional reactions and memories.

The band Marconi Union teamed up with scientists to create ‘the world’s most relaxing song’ titled ‘Weightless’. It is scientifically proven to alleviate stress and anxiety. Have a listen to it here.

Healing With Music

Music’s power to heal and soothe isn’t a new concept. For centuries, various cultures have recognized music’s therapeutic potential, using it to address physical, emotional, and psychological issues. Nowadays, music therapy is a well-established practice that aids people in dealing with various health problems, including stress and anxiety.

Read more about Music Therapy here. 

Serenity In Soundscapes

Beyond music, the calming influence of particular soundscapes has garnered attention in recent times. Natural sounds, like flowing water, bird songs, or the wind in the trees, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. These soothing sounds help create a serene environment and transport us to tranquil settings, even if only in our minds.
You can harness the power of soundscapes to bring serenity into your daily life. We have so many options in the palm of our hands via our phones, from ocean waves to forest rain. In fact there is a huge trend towards ‘Wellness Music’ at the moment among audio pioneers around the world in relaxing soundscape composition. Read more about that here. 

Whether it’s through music therapy, natural soundscapes, or your personalized playlists, the transformative influence of sound and music is a readily accessible and effective way to enhance our lives and find solace in a fast-paced world.