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How Does Music Affect Your Mental Health

By: Joshua Harrington


As a busy high school student, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. School’’s first semester is only half way finished. During times like this, it is important to use techniques to manage stress. One way you can do this is by using music. In this article we will go over the benefits of music, the science behind it, and what kinds of music are best for optimizing stress relief and productivity. 

Research has shown that music can lessen the “impact of depression and anxiety” (Frost Para. 5)  In 2019, a study was conducted on college students, who listened to classical music every day for 2 months. The researchers found that these students had significantly lowered their levels of anxiety! 

Additionally, a 2016 study researched the “connection between music and anxiety by studying people who have a fear of heights” (Frost Para. 6) In a virtual reality simulation, the subjects rode up nine floors in an elevator. The researchers discover that the group that listened to music during the experiment “recover faster from the stress of the experience than those who didn’t” Frost Para. 6) 

Furthermore, there have been many studies that have shown that listening to music can lower heart rate, which spikes when you're stressed. Also, music can lower blood pressure and your body’s stress hormones!

According to psychologist and music therapist  Bethan Cook, PsyD, you should “pick songs that have a storyline different from the challenges you’re facing… This can temporarily transport you elsewhere and give you a short break from your concerns, just like when you read a good book”.


The Science

There is evidence to support music's ability to calm a person down from a state of stress. This common coping mechanism has been proved to lower cortisol levels, which are the stress hormones in your brain!

Best Kinds of Music to Reduce Stress 

“Scientists say music distracts us from our worries, while a study by Queen Mary University of London demonstrated that playing music during and after medical operations calmed patients and even reduced their pain. (Broom Para. 2) At the UK’s Sussex University, Dr David Lewis of the Mindlab, conducted a study to “to identify the best tunes for stress reduction” (Broom Para. 8) His team studied over 15 relaxing songs. They found that the song “weightless” was the most relaxing song. 

They believe this is because it gradually slows from 60-50 beats per minute, which causes the listener's own heart rate to slow down. This process is known as “entrainment” Also because there is no repeating melody, the listener's brain is able to fully switch off because it is not trying to predict what is coming next. From this study, we can conclude that the best songs for relaxation and stress relief are those that gradually slow in beats per minute around the 50-60 bpm range and have no repeating melody. 

Best Kinds of Music to Improve Productivity 

According to some studies, ambient music might be the best music for productivity! In 2006, the Journal of Ergonomic conducted a study that discovered that music with “distinguishable speech” was the least helpful/ pleasant for participants.  

The Journal of Consumer Research conducted a study in 2012 that investigated how creativity is affected by ambient noise. The data suggested that participants' creative processes were improved when they listened to ambient noise at about 70 decibels (similar to the volume of a vacuum cleaner) Additionally, the study found that high volume ambient noise of about 85 decibels negatively affected creativity. Finally the journal of acoustical society of America discovered that playing natural ambient sounds such as a flowing stream improved both productivity and moods in the workplace.

These studies have shown us that listening to music at a moderate volume (around 70 decibels) and playing natural ambient sounds can increase your mood and your productivity while working!


I hope that this article has helped you to gain a better understanding on the effect of music on your mood and stress levels. I highly encourage you to use music as a tool to calm yourself or increase your productivity the next time you find yourself stressing about completing that massive load of homework assigned to you that is all due by 11:59 PM! 

Works Cited

How Music Can Improve Your Mental Health

The Science Behind Music’s Ability To Keep You Calm

These Songs Are Proven to Reduce Stress

These 11 songs will increase you Productivity  

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