Music for Stress Relief

relax and restore with music

Listening to music can have an instantaneous effect on your mood. Music that you loved during different times in your life can also bring you right back to the event.

Growing up in New York in the 1960’s, music was very different from what it is now. Radio stations serviced a local audience, and weren’t programmed from afar like they are now. We had our favorite radio stations (WNEW FM) that had their own personalities, and DJ’s who programmed their own shows with themes of their own choice. You turned on the radio as much to hear the DJ’s program as to hear the music. Each show was an original, with some DJs reading poetry, telling stories, talking about the musicians and performances.

And there was an attempt to involve the listeners. One show I loved asked listeners to call in with their versions of what the lyrics actually said, “What did he say??” it was called. It was hysterical to listen to all the different attempts to decipher what was actually sung behind the blaring guitars! Another show had listeners program a 3 song set to fit a particular theme.

Just thinking back to those times in my life transports me back to that, more simpler time. I grew up with the music, and watched it changed as the events in the world changed. Protest music written by the likes of Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, and many Folk Singers brought awareness of the Viet Nam war and inequality in the society in which we lived. I believe that the music changed our beliefs: that this young generation COULD make a difference in the world, and we took to the streets to protest and demonstrate.

Using Music for Stress Relief

When I listen to the “old music” which is kind of antique now, it brings me instantly back to the time I heard it. I can remember myself, even in elementary school, buying those ‘45s, and playing them time and time again on the “record player”.

If you want to go back now to a particular time in your life, you can program your memory by replaying the songs that were the background music in that time of you life. It may take some effort to recall songs, or your may be able to access those memories easily. Google the top songs of a particular year; the artists you remember. Take a stroll down memory lane, and download the music that made you feel happy, successful, popular, appreciated. What were the songs that made you excited, so that you couldn’t even sit down and listen? Get mindful and explore those memories: what you looked like, what you wore, where you lived..

These can be “go to” memories next time you’re feeling down or even just “blah”. Become your own DJ and program your life with the music that brings out the mood you want to feel. Make a “playlist” on you ipod for each mood you want to bring out. It doesn’t always have to be “happy”, because listening to certain kinds of music can actually help you to concentrate. Researchers have found that listening to Mozart’s or Bach’s music can boost concentrative powers.

You might even want to combine your other senses when listening to the music. Look through old family photos (if they make you happy). Old magazines and advertisements from the past can literally, bring you back there.

The point is, if you’re stressed right now, using your flexible mind, and information at your fingertips, you can expand your memory to bring you to a time when you felt great. And even a temporary respite from stress is a good change. And when you are happier, you are also healthier!

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