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This Song Can Induce More Relaxation Than a Massage

Have eight minutes to spare? Listen to this song to enjoy deep relaxation.

Karolina Grabowska/Pexels
Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

I’ve always believed in the power of music, but when I heard the claim that one song had the potential to reduce anxiety by 65%, I had to investigate.

Music has always been our global language. It’s something everyone can understand regardless of national origin, religion, or sex. It’s also a great coping skill that we need now more than ever to combat the stress created by COVID.

There are few other, if any, holistic remedies that are as effective or capable of reducing stress and shifting emotion so quickly. The mental health community has been recommending music for anxiety and stress for years. It’s even created an entire profession dedicated to using sound and music to improve emotional and cognitive wellbeing.

However, the scientific research performed on music’s ability to truly impact mental health positively was scarce. Thanks to experimental work conducted at the Mindlab laboratory based at the Sussex Innovation Centre in Brighton, England, we have the support of empirical testing to back up the claims.

A Study of Synthetic Sounds

Before the study began, Radox Spa worked with musician Marconi Union and therapeutic sound practitioner Lyz Cooper to create the ambient song "Weightless." (PSA: Scientists recommend that you do not listen to this while driving.)

To gauge the effect of music and the brain, the research team had two main objectives; to see just how relaxing “Weightless” was compared to 15 other tracks that research study participants claimed were calming and see if "Weightless" could compete with a massage using biofeedback. Biofeedback uses electronic instruments to measure physiological functions in one's body, such as heart rate, respiration rate, and skin conductance also known as the galvanic response.

Twenty female participants aged 18 to 61 headed into a “distraction-free room” and were instructed to put on their headphones, sit back, and listen to the tracks. What researchers discovered was astounding.

The Results

The study ultimately found that music was indeed able to induce a deep level of relaxation, reducing heart rate, respiration rates, and stress levels more than having a cup of tea, going for a walk, and playing video games.

Marconi Union’s "Weightless" won by a landslide. When "Weightless" was compared to the other tunes, it got a relaxation score of 73%, an 11% increase in relaxation over all other relaxing music tracks. It even beat Adele and Enya’s music! The song reduced overall anxiety rates by 65%.

Most surprisingly, "Weightless" was able to induce greater relaxation levels in participants than a massage. How could that be? When looking at the skin conductance or galvanic response, some participants were stimulated rather than relaxed. Who knew?

How Can Music Be So Powerful?

Lyz Cooper explained, “The sound works from the view of sustained tones really helping a person to feel safe … it enables the person, the listener to get out of the way and really relax at a deep level.” The study also purported that, “Brain imaging studies have shown that music works at a very deep level within the brain, stimulating not only those regions responsible for processing sound but also ones associated with emotions ... One of the reasons for the relaxing qualities of certain pieces of music is that they stimulate the production of the 'feel-good’ chemical dopamine. This neurotransmitter is usually associated with more basic pleasurable rewards such as food, drugs, and sex.”

So it’s true, there’s no better way to change your tune...quickly.

Be well,

Dr. K


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