When I was in college, my aerobics teacher usually played smooth jazz while we exercised. Have you ever tried to exercise to Kenny G? I have. It just doesn’t work out because it isn’t meant for dance but for easy listening.
At the same time, it can feel almost impossible to relax when you are listening to the wrong type of music. In this post, I will explore how music affects your mood, how to find the music that is most relaxing for you, and some of the best music for relaxation.
Music is more than sound
Have you ever seen a baby listen to a happy song that they really enjoy? They don’t just sit there and listen passively. First their eyes light up, then they start moving to the music, and finally they start laughing and playing in joy.
We don’t just hear music- we experience it. Most people can relate to hearing an upbeat sound and feeling compelled to rock their head to it or feeling on the brink of tears when they hear an especially sad song.
There is more to music than just the sound. Music is often tied to our memories. When I listen to the music that I enjoyed when I was in middle school, I don’t just hear the manufactured boy band music. I remember long lazy summer spent with my cousins learning about life.
Music is also so universal that deaf people can enjoy it. Even though they cannot hear very much sound, they can still experience the vibrations from the music and find meaning in the lyrics.
Music can induce relaxation
There is plenty of evidence in science that music can alter how you can feel. In one study from the University of the Mediterranean, subjects were given a very stressful task: speaking in public. Afterwards, they were given time to recover. During this recovery period, one group listened to relaxing music, while the other group did not listen to any music at all. Researchers found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased much more quickly in the group with the music. This indicated that the music was able to help them control their stress levels.
Another study looked at how music affects the heart in stressful situations. The heart is highly reactive to stressful situations: it beats faster in response to stress. This study measured the heart rate, blood pressure and electrical activity in the heart while subjects were driving (I’m sure that we can all agree that driving can be a stressful situation). All indications of stress from the heart decreased when subjects listened to music.
It is evident from these two studies that music can help you relax but what is the best relaxation music?
Music is highly subjective
It is an established truth that people have different tastes in music. Working with kids, it is difficult to come to a common ground when it comes to choosing music to play. Some kids absolutely love pop but despise country while others love R&B and refuse to listen to rock. It is difficult to come to a consensus so usually I end up choosing the music (which is usually the Piano Guys- a fabulous choice for kids).
It is very important to take into account your own tastes when choosing relaxing music. When it comes to something such as music, deep down inside you already know what is best for you.
Pay attention to how you feel when you listen to music
If you really don’t have any idea of where to start, listen to some different music selections and pay attention to how you feel while you are listening. Try to cut out any distractions and just focus on the music. Do you actually feel like you are relaxing? Or do you feel like you are tensing up or annoyed?
Try listening to the music on different days. I have found that my own experience of music changes over time. I lose interest in songs that I initially like while other songs grow on me.
Tuning in is the true test of what is the most relaxing music. Even if I say one thing and science says another thing, your own experience is most important for you.
Some relaxing music to check out
Classical music is well-known as being highly relaxing. There are plenty of harmonic and pleasant classical songs out there. There is an abundance of calming classical music on Netflix and Spotify. Here is a great playlist from Spotify that has relaxing classical music.
Relaxing acoustic music
If you want something a little more modern, you should consider checking out some playlists that have acoustic music. Acoustic music is usually very peaceful and concordant.
R&B just feels like a very cool musical genre. I personally find it the most relaxing for when I am driving since it is extremely interesting in addition to being highly relaxing.
This one is ideal for people who find it relaxing to listen to the sound of the ocean or who want something to fall asleep to.
How do you want to enhance your relaxation time?
Now that you have heard some selections of relaxing music, think about when you will use this and some different ways that you can enhance your experience.
Perhaps you can listen to a nice playlist in a dark, cool room with lots of blankets. Maybe you can light some candles or incense to help everything seem more relaxing. Perhaps, you can get a massage cushion or massage chair and come home to your own customized massage everyday.
You can even incorporate deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to help you wind down.
Ultimately, music can really influence how you feel. This is really useful because if you are having trouble relaxing, calm music can help you get in a better state of mind. Finding the best music for you is an opportunity for you to get in tune with how you are feeling and how the music influences you.
What type of music do you find most relaxing? Have you ever been in a situation where music seemed to influence how you felt? Let me know down in the comments below!