MEntal health

Does Music provides better health and reduces stress?

February 18,2021


Listening to music evokes positive emotions and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It shows a new dissertation in psychology from the University of Gothenburg. This knowledge can be used to create increased well-being at work.

Doctoral student Marie Helsing wanted to find out if you can improve your health by listening to music. A survey group with 207 people had to write a diary about a day in their lives. Then they had to divide the day into different episodes, for example went to work, cooked dinner and so on, and then answer a questionnaire about each episode. 

The questions were about what they did, how they felt and during which episodes they listened to music. It turned out that they experienced more positive emotions and less stress when listening to music.

– You could see an effect regardless of what kind of music they were listening to, but the effect became stronger when they chose songs themselves, says Marie.

Cholesterol levels were affected by music:

Another part of the dissertation included two groups, an experimental group and a Cholesterol group, of about 20 participants each. The experimental group was given the task of sitting down for a week and taking it easy for 30 minutes after work. For the next three weeks, they would sit for 30 minutes listening to music after work. During the whole week, the control group was allowed to sit and take it easy for the same length of time, but without listening to music.

Each day, all participants had to fill in how they felt physically, what emotions they experienced and how stressed they felt. All also had to submit saliva samples on six occasions, the first at the beginning of the study and the last at the end, to measure the cortisol content, which is strongly linked to stress. It turned out that the experimental group that was allowed to listen to music had a positive change in the cholesterol.

– Not the first week when they would just sit still, but on the other hand there was a difference after they had been listening to music for a few weeks. They also stated that they felt less stressed. This difference was not seen in the control group, says Marie.

An additional effect was that the group that was allowed to listen to music also experienced positive emotions more strongly. This effect also became clear when they also started listening to music when they relaxed.

Different ways to use music at work:

The results of the study show that music can contribute to better health because listening evokes positive emotions which in turn reduces stress. Less stress leads to better health, which means that regular music listening can be a pure de-stressing regimen. This knowledge could also be used in workplaces to improve employee well-being, says Marie.

– My focus has not been the workplace, but I think you can use music to help the staff to de-stress. Listening to music you like reinforces positive emotions.

What the motive may be for listening to music is different for different people and different situations. Sometimes you want to be refreshed, sometimes you need to be more relaxed. You just need to make sure that it fits the work situation and the tasks. In addition, the employees must be allowed to choose their own music and you must also be able to decide if you want to listen. Not everyone wants that. Giving staff headphones is a solution.

Not all workplaces allow you to work and listen to music at the same time. Marie  suggests that in such jobs you can instead go away and take a music break and listen to some songs that you like. It can give new energy or a little peace and quiet if that is what you need so that you then have the strength to take on the job in a better way.

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Does Music provides better health and reduces stress?


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