Music: The Underutilized Yet Powerful Tool for Handling Stress and Anxiety

As a society we all know that stress and anxiety have negative effects on our body and our mind. We could all benefit from learning more stress and anxiety management tools, but for an individual struggling with drugs and alcohol the need for these tools is much greater and can mean the difference between life and death.

An addict’s inability to effectively handle stress and anxiety can prohibit their recovery efforts; potentially resulting in a relapse. People often turn to substances as a quick fix to stop a bad feeling. With the current opioid epidemic facing our country, and the hidden ingredients (like fentanyl) found in drugs today, a single relapse can lead to overdose and death. We have to teach people how to deal with their anxiety and stress.

At Enhanced Healing Wellness Center we promote and encourage the use of many effective tools for stress and anxiety management. We incorporate acupuncture, yoga, counseling, time management tools, and more. But there is one powerful tool I’d like to discuss that I believe is underutilized and extremely effective: MUSIC.

Music has been used for centuries to evoke emotion and promote a sense of health and wellbeing. The emotional effects of music have long been recognized but we are just recently acquiring scientific evidence of music being proven as a powerful alternative therapy for changing a person’s thinking, feelings, emotional state, behavior, physical health and even an individual’s life. 

·        Kids who play musical instruments are likely to have higher self-esteem, confidence, discipline, concentration, and emotional intelligence than kids who don’t play instruments (Hallam, 2010).

·        “The "right kind" of music soothes our frazzled nerves. Some of that effect comes from the music's rhythm. Biologically we are rhythmic creatures with all sorts of rhythms: heart and breathing rates, hormone cycles, sleep cycles, mental alertness cycles, and so on.” (Psychology Today, 2017)

·        “A wealth of new studies is touting the benefits of music on mental and physical health. For example, in a meta-analysis of 400 studies, Levitin and his postgraduate research fellow, Mona Lisa Chanda, PhD, found that music improves the body's immune system function and reduces stress. Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery (Trends in Cognitive Sciences, April, 2013).”

For Anxiety and Stress, music has the capacity to help a person:

  • Experience deep state of relaxation and serenity
  • Reduce the experience and effects of stress
  • Promote a peaceful, restful sleep
  • Generate physical healing.

Unfortunately, most therapists and counselors do not know the beneficial and powerful effects of therapeutic relaxation music in counseling sessions or how to incorporate therapeutic relaxation music into their programs. Therapeutic relaxation music can be a very powerful modality as it is uniquely designed with the primary purpose of creating a very deep state of relaxation in the individual who listens to it.  

Therapeutic Relaxation Music has a specific nature or structure to it that includes:

  1. Sustained Chords: The more sustaining the musical chords the more of a sense of relaxation is created or instilled within the listener. The feeling of the relaxation music is one that is very slow in tempo as there is very little chord change or progression. 
  2. Repetitious Nature: that is, the therapeutic relaxation music most effective for reducing anxiety and stress utilizes short musical patterns that repeat themselves.  As with the use of sustained chords, the more repetitious the therapeutic music the more of a sense of deep relaxation is created for the one listening.  The repetitious nature of the music soothes the client into a deep state of relaxation and ease.
  3. Binaural Audio Tones: are utilized to assist the person into moving into a more relaxed state of relaxation. Effective therapeutic relaxation music uses either theta binaural audio tones for a deep profound state of relaxation or delta binaural audio tones for inducing sleep.  Utilizing binaural audio tones further enhances the power of the therapeutic relaxation music.

The therapeutic relaxation music described about can be used by anyone who wants to experience a deep state of relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety or even need assistance in going to sleep at night.

For Individuals: Listening to Therapeutic Relaxation Music is an effective method for assisting you in being able to reduce your anxiety and stress. There are free resources available online however I recommend doing your research. I compose tracks for my clients and our program and following a request have made those tracks available online at https://soundcloud.com/drharryhenshaw-1

For Therapists or Treatment Programs: Therapeutic Relaxation Music can be used during individual and group counseling sessions to assist clients in their therapeutic process; helping them to relax (before or after a difficult conversation) helping them to open up, and helping them to heal. The therapeutic relaxation music can also be used in the programming of a residential treatment center or on hospital units to help relax and even promote sleep for clients. For working with clients in a clinical setting, such as with addicts and alcoholics, therapeutic relaxation music can be a very powerful tool to utilize in their transformation. 

For more information about the therapeutic relaxation music and the different ways that it can be utilized, both in a counseling and non counseling setting please call us at 866-662-4337.