With the holidays quickly approaching and an unpredictable and anxiety-inducing election just days away, we could all use an easy and effective way to reduce stress.
Thankfully, researchers in the UK have found a key strategy for reducing stress and it is music to our ears—literally.
The study involved individuals listening to music while attempting to solve difficult puzzles as fast as possible. Because of their difficulty, the puzzles induced stress in participants. The researchers measured the participants’ brain activity and other stress indicators, like heart rate and blood pressure, as the puzzle solvers listened to different songs.
While most songs had some sort of effect, one song far and away reduced stress better than the rest.
Dr David Lewis-Hodgson, from Mindlab International, which conducted the research, told The Telegraph, “the results clearly show that the track induced the greatest relaxation—higher than any of the other music tested.”
That song—”Weightless”—reduced participants’ overall anxiety by 65 percent and their usual physiological resting rates, like heartbeat, by 35 percent.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the band behind it, Marconi Union, composed the soothing song with stress reduction in mind. Working with sound therapists, they set out to write a piece of music that would calm anxiety and help with insomnia.
But, I have to be perfectly honest. While writing this piece, I listened to this song no less than 10 times, and I just couldn’t relax. In fact I felt (dare I say it?) more stressed. Worried I might be a freak, I turned to music therapist Lindsay Menninger of Keys for Success in Cincinnati to know for sure.
While she herself found the song relaxing, she is skeptical that this song can be an effective tool for all people.
“While certain aspects of music do universally lend themselves to relaxation, what each person finds relaxing is very individualized,” she explains.
For those that fall in the camp that “Weightless” is “the most relaxing song ever,” Lewis-Hodgson warns us to be careful when and where we listen to it. Cautioning listeners, “weightless was so effective, many women became drowsy and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.”