Mom’s can do it all — so the saying goes. And you absolutely can! Yet a whopping 70% of U.S moms are stressed out and tired. It’s not hard to see why. From financial insecurities to relationship demands, and strict parenting guidance to the pressure to raise children who excel, stress can feel unavoidable. You may even think of it as an inevitable consequence of your day-to-day life. Are you even a mum if you’re not stretched, if you’re not always juggling a number of demands — if you’re not constantly stressed?
But stress has serious effects. Not only does stress affect your ability to provide your child with the best possible care, it can also lead to a whole host of physical and mental issues. Taking time for yourself is often seen as a luxury — when really, it should be a necessity.
Music is the perfect aid to relaxation. It slows the pulse and heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases levels of stress hormones. So, if you’re feeling stressed, music can be the ultimate way to unwind, destress, and relax like never before.
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Music and the Science of Relaxation
Ever wondered why there is always music playing in hospitals, dentists or nursing homes? Think about what these places have in common — they’re places of healing, and they’re also places of great stress. We’ve all been sat in the waiting room of a dentists, dreading hearing our name called. Music has a proven positive effect on our physiological and mental functions. The music you hear in these places is not just for the entertainment of overworked staff — it’s actually a crucial part of the process of healing and relaxation for patients and their families.
Music therapy is a growing field in healthcare and is now even being used to aid the treatment of cancer patients, children with ADD, and those suffering from depression and mental health conditions.
A lot of research has been done on the physiological impact of listening to music and what qualities it possesses that causes it to have a relaxing effect. Research has found that listening to music with a tempo of 60-beats per minute causes the heart rate to sync to the same pace and the brain to produce an alpha brainwave. It’s the alpha brainwave that causes the glorious feeling of total relaxation. Put simply, music has a physical effect that actually changes the way our brains work. We know that when we’re worried, scared, or stressed, our heart rate quickens. Likewise, when we’re calm, our heart rate slows. But you can engineer this to work for you — just by listening to relaxing music, you can trick your body into activating a relaxation response! This can even lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of conditions associated with it, such as strokes.
What Music Is Best for Relaxation?
So, we know that music with 60 beats per minute releases a relaxation response in our bodies, but is it the only way? Absolutely not. Think of the one song that never fails to make you want to get up and dance. The song that brings a tear to your eye. You know, your songs — the music that stirs something inside you. Music is deeply personal. We all associate music with different places, experiences, and people. The song that you and your sweetheart shared your first kiss to will likely stir up feelings of love and happiness in you, but in someone else, it might have absolutely no effect. Because of these powerful associations, music can have an incredible effect on the mind and body.
The same can be said for music that calms us. What relaxes you won’t necessarily relax your mom or best friend. But, if you’re interested in incorporating music into your relaxation routine, then the following are good places to start:
- Native American and Celtic music: Many people find the combination of strings, drums, and flutes to be incredibly relaxing. The drone-like bass and the harmony can help to produce a sense of tranquility.
Sounds of nature: Rain, thunder, and rainforest compilations are all popular choices when it comes to relaxation. At a time when our lives are increasingly dominated by urban living, sounds that return us to the simplicity of nature can induce a much-needed sense of calm.
- The key here is to remember to listen to what you like. Ironically, if you force yourself to relax to music that you don’t like, you’ll probably end up feeling more stressed. Think about how music makes you feel, what emotions it stirs and memories it brings. Music is personal, and to reap the benefits of using music to relax, you need to find what works for you.
How Can I Incorporate Music for Relaxation into My Daily Life?
Ideally, you should try and find at least 30 minutes every day just for you. Find a quiet place in your house, turn up the music, get comfy, and just relax. No thinking about the kids or your partner; no worrying about all the things you have to do — just clear your mind and listen to the music.
Now, we know what you’re thinking — “how am I meant to find the time?” If there’s really no way you can take some time out for yourself, don’t worry. There are ways you can easily incorporate music into your daily life that don’t require you to stop what you’re doing. Music provides a background of tranquility, even when you’re surrounded by stress.
- Start the day with relaxing music: Keep it on in the background while you go about your usual routine — waking the kids up, preparing breakfast, and getting everyone off to where they need to be. Have you noticed that when your morning doesn’t go to plan, it turns into “one of those days” where things continue to get worse? Start the day in a relaxed, positive frame of mind, and see how things change.
- Soundtrack your commute: Adding music to a car journey can help ease the tension of the day — just make sure that you stay focused on the road!
- Add music to stressful tasks: Paying bills, sorting your taxes, filling out school applications — these aren’t often words you’d use in the same sentence as “fun”. But, if you’re faced with a particularly stressful task, music can help. Put on a relaxing soundtrack, and you’ll be surprised how quickly it changes your mood!