Music as a Stress Reliever

It is the night before her exam, and Meera realizes that she is yet to revise two whole units! She starts to panic. In a moment, she feels her heart beating against her chest rapidly. She also starts to breathe short and quick breaths. She isn’t able to concentrate on what she is currently reading and seems to forget everything she read earlier.

This may look like a familiar situation to many of you. These are the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Meera tosses around and then decides to listen to her favorite music. Listening to music always makes her calm and relaxed. She loves to listen to instrumental and sometimes western classical music. Within a mere 15 minutes, she feels more at ease and goes back to her studies.

When you are stressed, the levels of cortisol in the blood and the levels of alpha-amylase in the saliva increases. Studies have shown that listening to music – be it natural sounds like the sound of flowing water or some classical music –  can to some extent decrease the levels of alpha-amylase in the saliva. Scientists experimented with asking women to listen to relaxing music or
nature sounds. After the music session, they were asked to either perform a task in front of an audience or do a math problem. Scientists measured their cortisol and alpha-amylase levels. They found that the alpha-amylase levels of people who listened to classical music went back to normal more quickly. This suggests that relaxing music helps the body to return to a non-stressed state more quickly.

It is good for the body when it can get back to normalcy faster. It prevents the body from getting worn out soon. Those who listened to nature sounds had much lower cortisol levels than the ones who listened to music, which also shows that we as humans are more inclined to be in harmony with nature. Somewhere subconsciously, we still associate ourselves to be one with nature. So, now we know what we need to do when we are angry or frustrated – just put on your headphones and enjoy the music for a short period of time.

Dr Padma

Dr. Padma is a practicing Physician. She runs a very popular social media blog, She also coaches high school students who are considering a career in medicine.

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