We all suffer from anxiety at some stage in our lives, but for some of us (myself included), anxiety is a crippling emotion that is with us constantly.
Personally, I am really interested in the area of Music Therapy and using music as a possible treatment for anxiety,
I know from my own personal experiences that music is a wonderful and cheap medication. It can lift my mood, make me happy and calm my anxiety.
But is there a magic tune that is best to ease anxiety? Can I compose a piece of music that is my own personal anxiety prescription? What is the best music to ease anxiety?
Although listening to any type of music has been shown to diminish anxiety, “Weightless” by Marconi Union has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety by 65%.
When I read this fact, I was shocked.
I know that music can reduce anxiety just from my own personal experience, but 65% is an incredible reduction in anxiety! I bet there is a lot of pharmaceutical companies that would pay billions to transform that tune into a pill!
Does music function like medicine?
I have always been fascinated by the power of music and the impact it has on the brain.
What triggered this fascination was an article on the BBC in 2018, about the extraordinary healing powers of music, particularly on dementia sufferers.
Since that article, the BBC has gone on to set up the website, “Music and Dementia at the BBC” and the healing power of music is very apparent.
The profound effect of music on the brain and our emotions has started to be taken very seriously by researchers.
Researchers at Standford University, highlight that, “A small but growing body of scientific evidence suggests that music and other rhythmic stimuli can alter mental states in predictable ways and even heal damaged brains.“
In this Standford University news article, Gabe Turow, a visiting scholar in the Department of Music comments, “We may be sitting on one of the most widely available and cost-effective therapeutic modalities that ever existed”
“We may be sitting on one of the most widely available and cost effective therapeutic modalities that ever existed,” Turow said. “Systematically, this could be like taking a pill. Listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication, in many circumstances.”https://news.stanford.edu/news/2006/may31/brainwave-053106.html
Is this the best song for anxiety?
According to research completed by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, “Weightless” by Marconi Union was proven to reduce stress and anxiety by 65%.
Here is this magical tune. With over 73 million views on YouTube and 1.3 million likes, this is clearly a much-loved piece of music.
In researching music and its calming effects, a team of neuroscientists led by Dr. Lewis-Hodgson gave participants puzzles to solve which induced stress.
These participants had sensors attached to their bodies which recorded heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
They completed these “stress-inducing puzzles” while listening to music and the researchers concluded that this song was the most influential in reducing anxiety.
My only comment on this music, and it is a beautiful piece of music, is that I don’t find it majorly effective in reducing my own anxiety, however, I find it fantastic to work too.
My question to Dr. Lewis-Hodgson and the research team (if I ever was fortunate enough to meet them) would be to ask if they considered the impact of the music on one’s ability to focus, therefore solve the puzzles more easily?
Although this is definitely relaxing music, I would also classify it as excellent music to work or study too as it really helps me focus my thoughts.
This is a great piece of research!
What type of music reduces anxiety the best?
According to this University of Nevada article, “Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud.”
I love that Celtic music is listed as a great music genre to relax the mind.
Celtic Music or Irish Music is my favorite music genre for reducing anxiety and relaxing my mind.
There is something extraordinary about this genre of music that is primeval and appeals to our brain in a very fundamental way.
In addition, I grew up listening to the calming songs of Enya, which are enchanting.
Perhaps it is the rhythmic drums or the haunting laments of the traditional Celtic instruments that capture the imagination, but whatever it is, Celtic music calms my thoughts and transfers my anxious mind to a much calmer place.
Download Free Relaxing Celtic Music
Here is some free-to-download relaxing Celtic Music.
If you just want to listen to this music for personal use, you can also find them on my Spotify Artist Page.
If you would like some relaxing Celtic Music but with some tribal drums, here are some alternative options.
Comments from General Research
Research has identified one particular song that can reduce stress and anxiety by up to 65% in test subjects
Wider research shows that any type of music can reduce anxiety but some genres are more effective that others, for example, a study titled, Effect of Different Kinds of Music on Anxiety During Implant Surgery in Turkey,  identified that Turkish Music and Classical Music were more effective in their particular study compared to soft rock.
A study titled, “Music for Anxiety Reduction and Performance Enhancement in Nursing Simulation“  showed that music listening reduced mean arterial pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety in the subjects.
A study titled “Sedative music reduces anxiety and pain during chair rest after open-heart surgery”  concluded that “Patients should be encouraged to use sedative music as an adjuvant to medication during chair rest.”
I am no medical doctor, but the benefits of music as a healing tool and reducer of anxiety are proving strong from general research.
I am sure there is still lots to do in this field and it is exciting to anticipate what might be revealed about the importance of music to our mood, stress levels, and general health.
The next time I am stressed and anxious I will give “Weightless” by Marconi Union a listen and perhaps it will help.
Either way, for me personally, music is an important healer and a critical tool in controlling my anxiety and cortisol levels!
——————————————————– Kevin P. Gosselin, Brian Holland, Angela Mulcahy, Sara Williamson, Alexis Widacki, Music for Anxiety Reduction and Performance Enhancement in Nursing Simulation, Clinical Simulation in Nursing, Volume 12, Issue 1, 2016, Pages 16-23, ISSN 1876-1399, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecns.2015.12.002 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187613991500095X)
——————————————————— Jo A. Voss, Marion Good, Bernice Yates, Mara M. Baun, Austin Thompson, Melody Hertzog, Sedative music reduces anxiety and pain during chair rest after open-heart surgery, Pain, Volume 112, Issues 1–2, 2004, Pages 197-203, ISSN 0304-3959, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2004.08.020 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304395904004142)