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This Song Can Stop Your Anxiety in 8 Minutes
You’re restless, fatigued and tense. You’re preoccupied with worry and trying to control those intrusive thoughts, but nothing seems to work. But what if we told you that you could just put on your headphones and listen to a song and feel instantly better?
We wouldn’t be lying. There is actually a song created specifically for that purpose, and its efficacy is backed by science. United Kingdom-based band Marconi Union composed their song “Weightless” to help treat the most common mental illness in the United States 3. Anxiety is a condition that affects 40 million adults living in the U.S. That’s 18 percent of the population.
The musical trio collaborated with sound therapists to carefully arrange harmonies, rhythms and bass lines that help slow a listener’s heart rate, reports Inc. The song also helps to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol, a stress hormone.
And when neuroscientists from Mindlab International put the song to the test, it passed with flying colors.
For the study, participants were asked to solve difficult puzzles as quickly as possible while connected to sensors. Sound stressful? It was. “The puzzles induced a certain level of stress,” reports Inc. “Participants listened to different songs while researchers measured brain activity as well as physiological states that included heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing.”
“Weightless” came out as the top song that produced a greater state of relaxation over any other music tested to date. Participants who listened to the song experienced a 65 percent reduction in overall anxiety and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates, according to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International.
So how does it work? Sound therapy helps improve brain function through high-frequency sound. “[It] stimulates the ear by presenting it with constantly alternating sounds of high and low tone, within the complex structure of classical music,” according to Sound Therapy International. “The results observed in sound therapy listeners include increased energy, reduced fatigue with improved focus and creativity, a reduction in the need for sleep and an almost permanent state of peace and relaxation.”
And given that anxiety has been linked to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory disorders and gastrointestinal conditions, it’s important to seek ways to help your mind and body relax 1.
But if you’re planning on driving while listening to “Weightless,” hold that thought. “‘Weightless’ was so effective, many women became drowsy,” says Dr. Lewis-Hodgson. “I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.”
So give the song a listen — if you’re not behind the wheel.
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Tiffany Lin has been a writer and editor since 2008. Her book reviews, news pieces and features have appeared in Cat Fancy, Dog World, Romantic Homes, Cottages & Bungalows, Chickens, Kittens USA and Urban Farm magazines. Lin is currently the Food & Drink and Nutrition Editor for LIVESTRONG.COM.