As the ground shifts underneath us, we’re faced with an unprecedented situation that has forced us all to make adjustments at work and at home.
In an effort to “flatten the curve”, most of us across the globe have been asked to stay home, to “socially distance” ourselves from friends and family.
This type of social isolation is a challenge many of us have never faced, and it’s a difficult time for all, to say the least. After all, we’re only human, and social interactions are deeply important to our well-being.
That, in addition to precarious financial situations for many, brings fear, anxiety and stress, leaving so many of us asking ourselves when this will end, and what will happen next.
There’s certainly no shortage of articles offering coping suggestions from exercising to picking up a new hobby, binging your favorite tv show, or calling someone you love.
Those options are helpful, but here’s a simple coping strategy you may not have considered: how about listening to music?
Sound is everywhere; it envelops us.
Did you know that, aside from slowing heart rate, lowering blood pressure and improving cognitive skills, music can also significantly reduce stress levels?
It’s true — music is a powerful force for easing anxiety in both your mind and body. If you’ve ever experienced those chills that run down your spine when you hear a beautiful piece of music, you know what I’m talking about.
Humans are a musical species. Our deep connection to audio starts in the womb, where at just six months in utero, we’re able to hear sound.
So, how does that happen? As many scientific articles have proven, our brains are capable of translating a structured sequence of sounds such as music into a meaningful and rewarding experience. That’s because music occupies more areas of our brain than language does, and these areas are very close to those concerned with memory, emotion, and mood.
When stimulated with music, our brains come alive and ‘illuminate’ with activity, as seen on these two MRIs.
Physiologically, when we hear music our system releases neurotransmitters in our brain called dopamine, responsible for making us feel good and helping us maintain a vital equilibrium in the face of stressful situations like, for example, a global pandemic.
Music, with its collective and communal properties, can also contribute to group bonding. “People sing together, dance together, in every culture, and one can imagine them doing so, around the first fires, a hundred thousand years ago” (1)
So, whether you’re looking for an immersive solo moment through headphones or you’re seeking a soundtrack to bring a (virtual) group of friends and family closer, here are a few of my favorite options for relieving anxiety through music:
- The most obvious choice is to head to your favorite musical platform; Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Deezer are a few I love. Enjoy your old favorite hits or discover new ones while you sing and dance along. Plus, you’ll kill two birds with one stone by exercising and entertaining yourself at the same time.
- Have a playlist that you listen to over and over? Why not spread the love by sharing it with friends? Especially right now, we’re all looking to discover our next favorite artist. Check out my French Café playlist on Spotify.
- Are you a musician yourself? Share your music on social media. Check out what Berklee College of Music in Boston shared on social media in this moving video.
- If you can’t attend a classical concert or opera in person, you can still livestream one from home. Check out what the Metropolitan Opera or the Berlin Philharmonic or the London Symphony Orchestra have to offer.
- Take advantage of this great resource to discover live virtual concerts around the world, categorized by date and genre.
- This time at home is an opportunity to become closer with those around you, especially your next door neighbors. So open your windows, head out onto your balconies and share some music with the world.