Have you had a stressful day and are looking for a way to relax? Look no further! Today we’re discussing some tips and tricks for using music for relaxation. At the end of this post, we share a relaxation playlist curated by one our board-certified music therapists.
I’d like to start by emphasizing that there is no magical “relaxation music” for everyone. For example, my dad always used to listen to a Rob Zombie album before bed because it helped him fall asleep. If you don’t know Rob Zombie, his music is pretty dark and I’d say falls in the “hard rock” category. His music is definitely not something I would recommend for someone with the goal of relaxation, but it worked for him and that’s great! Some people find acoustic guitar music relaxing, while some people find electronic music more relaxing. Some people would rather listen to music with lyrics than music without.
Even though there are no hard rules, there are some guidelines that we as music therapists use when looking for relaxing music for most of our clients. Most importantly, pay attention to how your mind and body respond to the music and that will help you find what works best for you. Hopefully this will at least give you a good starting point to discover the music that helps you find relaxation and maybe will give you enough confidence to make the perfect relaxation playlist for you!
1. Choose music without lyrics
Lyrics can often times be distracting when you’re trying to relax. Sometimes it’s too easy to start focusing too much on the lyrics or story of a song, which can make it difficult to relax.
2. Find music without sudden changes in dynamic or tempo.
“Dynamics” is a musical term that describes when music is loud, soft, or somewhere in the middle. “Tempo” describes the speed of music. When looking for relaxing music, try to avoid songs with big changes in either of these. When we’re trying to relax, our brains don’t like big changes, they like predictability and routine which brings us to our next tip.
3. Repetitive is best
Music that’s fairly repetitive is often times more relaxing than music that’s constantly shifting and changing. Our brains find comfort in being able to find patterns and knowing what to expect.
4. Simple is generally better
Error on the side of simple. When there’s a lot going on in a song, it can be very stimulating and energize you rather than relax you.
5. Pay attention to how your mind and body responds to different music
This is probably the most important guideline. Does your heartbeat or breathing speed up when you listen to a song? Does your mind start going in a hundred different directions? Does it make you feel excited or anxious or make you think of a negative memory? Then that music might not be the best choice for you when your goal is relaxation.
We’ve compiled a relaxation playlist for you on both Spotify and on YouTube. We’d recommend using Spotify if possible, so you won’t run into loud, disruptive ads when you’re trying to relax, but both platforms will work!
For me, the idea of trying to relax by just listening to music is a little daunting. If you’re a busy body like me, try pairing listening to music with a calming task, like coloring! Coloring is great for both children and adults. Click here for a previous blog post where we discussed some of the benefits of coloring and shared some fun music-themed coloring pages. I don’t know about you, but I could swear my printer is out of ink 99% of the time. If you have a similar issue, here’s a link to a website where you can color things like mandalas online by just clicking on a color and the space in the picture that you want to fill in. Online Mandala Coloring Page
Happy relaxation folks! Check out the rest of our blog for some guided relaxations and other awesome music resources.