Part 2: How does the right music inspire and enhance relaxation?

Music can have such a profound effect on both our bodies and our emotions without us even consciously realising it. Fast, upbeat music can make us feel alert, active and full of adrenaline, whereas a slower tempo can help quieten our minds and relax our bodies, helping us release our tensions and stresses.  With this in mind, it’s so important for businesses in the hospitality space to get their music right to help boost their guests and customers overall wellbeing. 

Music has been widely studied for its dual ability to both entertain and heal. Over the years, there have been countless studies into how listening to music can have therapeutic effects on our wellbeing – physically and mentally. Think back to a time when you were overwhelmed and overworked; how would listening to your favourite songs make you feel? Or listening to calming nature sounds or the sound of a waterfall or the ocean? A sense of calmness almost instantly washes over you, without you even consciously making the shift. 

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Music and human physiology

Let’s now delve into how music impacts our physiology and helps with our relaxation. Music connects with our automatic nervous system (brain function, blood pressure and heartbeat) as well as our Limbic system (feelings and emotions). 

When slow music is played, our bodily reactions follows suit; our heartbeat slows down and blood pressure drops. This in turn, causes our breath to slow and get deeper, which helps release tension in our neck, shoulders, stomach and back. Therefore, listening to slow or calming music on a regular basis can help our bodies relax, which over time, we become more attuned to slowing down, reducing our reactions to stress and building our resilience.

According to researchers at Stanford University, “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” They further noted that music is something that almost everybody can access nowadays, and makes it an easy stress reduction and relaxation tool.

Alpha brainwaves are what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. Music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronise with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 – 14 hertz or cycles per second). And yes, we do not go around counting the beats per minute, but finding slower paced sounds which calm you can be so valuable. For some, this would comprise of sounds of the rain or nature, whereas for others it may be Native American stringed-instruments, or even light jazz or classical music.

Different tempos, rhythms, and melodies can trigger vastly different reactions. There is no right or wrong when it comes to finding music which relaxes you; as we are all individual, and different music can be used in varying circumstances to yield different outcomes. 

The benefits of relaxing music on wellness

There are a plethora of benefits when listening to relaxing music, and songs which make you feel relaxed. Feeling relaxed has many onward ramifications and can change one’s mood. So much so, that every three months the American Psychological Association publishes a musicology journal with studies around the topic of relaxing music and it’s cognitive, emotional and neurobiological benefits.

Feeling relaxed and calm from music can aid our wellbeing in so many ways:

  1. Reduce stress levels: Music can influence our breathing and heart rates, trigger our hormones and boost the brain’s cognitive and emotional areas. It can also have cathartic effects in our body, especially when listening to nature-scapes. Melodic harmonies, perfect frequencies, soothing music and nature sounds can trigger the release of our happy hormones: serotonin and endorphin. 
  2. Aid in better sleep: Listening to relaxing music before bed or whilst falling asleep can help you to fall asleep faster, wake up less frequently during the night, and wake feeling more rested as it helps us release our worries and those exhausting thoughts that often feed anxiety. A slower heart rate, less laboured breathing, and lower blood pressure are all physiological changes that music places on the body that makes it possible to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. The same physiological effects are true for when you relaxing, even if you do not sleep, in a spa for example.
  3. Remove distractions: Relaxing music helps remove unwanted distractions from your mind which means you can be more attentive and aware, and less on edge or tense. It can also divert your attention away from negativity, counterproductive thoughts or triggers which induce stress and tension.
  4. Improve concentration: Certain music can help your mind relax and your body from feeling so tense that you struggle to focus on the task at hand. Music can therefore help free up more time, if you’re able to get the job done more effectively and efficiently by concentrating and not being so distracted or procrastinating.
  5. Influence moods: Music can have a massive effect on emotions and make us feel a certain way. Happy, upbeat music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which evokes feelings of joy, whereas calming music relaxes the mind and the body.

The average hearing person across the world listened to 18 hours of music a week! This shows the potential amplitude a person has when they listening to certain music and how that music can make them feel.

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry

Music as meditation

Meditation is an ancient tradition which has been practiced in cultures all over the world for centuries, and this is closely associated with inner harmony and peace, a sense of relaxation and a balanced way of living. Meditation can often be used for both mental and physical health conditions. It also aims to focus, center, calm, or direct your attention and can therefore, relax our bodies. Often, music used for meditation has a slow tempo, which can reduce heart rate, and also lower anxiety and stress levels and aids in relaxation and overall wellness. 

Furthermore, the power of music can have the same relaxing properties of meditating, as it soothes our minds and bodies and acts as a mood enhancer. Music has the ability to powerfully shift our emotions, state of mind and physical feelings. Meditation is not that different. Meditation lowers the stress hormone cortisol, helps us relax and aids our sense of wellness and holistic wellbeing.

Sound good? Want to find out more?

If you’d like to investigate how music can impact relaxation or a certain mood within your business for your guests and customers, speak to one of our Music Specialists. The team here at Ambie are here to help finding a music genre and bespoke curated playlists that can be enjoyed in your setting and are found to be soothing. Simply get in touch here.

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