For those of us who suffer from excessive nervousness, or bouts of anxiety, it can be really difficult to find ways to center yourself in public—or private—situations.
Music, however, has been scientifically proven as an effective method of reducing anxiety. Not only that, but research shows that 81% of people work more accurately when listening to music.
Some time ago, a group of English neuroscientists at Mindlab International in the UK put together a playlist of the 10 most relaxing songs in the world. These songs were determined to be the most relaxing in a study where participants were put under a certain level of stress while completing a unique task (in this instance, putting together a puzzle).
At the end of the study, the team found that one song in particular was responsible for lowering the stress and/or anxiety levels of participants the most: “Weightless” by Marconi Union (find the official 10-hour version embedded below).
The song, specifically written with the intention of reducing stress levels in the people who listen to it, was proven to demonstrate a 65% decrease in participants’ overall anxiety levels.
According to Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, this was no accident:
“The song makes use of many musical principles that have been shown to individually have a calming effect. By combining these elements in the way Marconi Union have has created the perfect relaxing song…It contains a sustaining rhythm that starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slows to around 50. While listening, your heart rate gradually comes to match that beat.”
In creating the song, careful attention and intentionality was placed in the song’s slow-moving melodies, easeful rhythms, and soothing baseline to create a backdrop of sound that would ultimately reduce listeners’ blood pressure and cortisol levels (a hormone released when stressed).
While the constant cacophony that scores our everyday lives may not be necessarily as soothing as “Weightless,” it’s clear that setting some time aside to indulge in holistic practices to control our anxieties can ultimately be of great benefit to us. By setting aside five or ten minutes a day to listen to soothing sounds, we can actually, over time, greatly decrease our overall stress levels.
So, next time you find yourself confronting a stressful situation, or fear an incoming anxiety attack, put on a pair of headphones, look up “Weightless,” and ground yourself. Your breathing will slow and your heart rate will return to its normal level as the stress you feel leaves your body.
But Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson warns that the song “Weightless” can be so relaxing that it might very well cause you to get drowsy or even fall asleep. Says Lewis-Hodgson, “I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.”