Releasing stress through music

Anika Hovel, Staff Writer

Music can reduce stress levels for many people, but they may be curious about the science behind it. Say you get home from a really exhausting and stressful day at work or school. If you put in your ear buds and put on an uplifting playlist, you are most likely going to end up feeling better.

Music is a really popular coping mechanism that people use to calm down or get more relaxed. That is if you use it in the right way.

 “Just think of the JAWS soundtrack as the shark gets closer, or a horror movie where the monster is revealed and chases the other characters. When it’s suspenseful we see an increase in Cortisol and Norepinephrine,” counselor Zachary Thomas said.

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter or a chemical messenger that is a stress hormone.

When we listen or see something that is intense or scary there is a majority of Norepinephrine. So, while you might want to listen to sad music when you are sad or stressed, it will often bring down your mood even more.

“It feels right to do so when we are sad, but this can actually perpetuate our feelings of sadness which is why I encourage people that if they start with a sad playlist, to end with a more neutral or uplifting playlist” Zachary Thomas said.

Listening to an “uplifting” playlist will most likely create a Oxytocin, Dopamine, and Serotonin response which would be considered the opposite of a stress hormone and instead a happy hormone.

Counselor Alyssa Thomas said “There are ‘feel good chemicals’ in our brain such as serotonin and dopamine. What happens is when we hear something we like (or see, taste, etc) these ‘feel good chemicals’ get released in our brain which reduces our stress and can often improve our mood.

Zachary Thomas says that some of the coping mechanisms used are “Good/healthy: listening to music, drawing/coloring, car rides, time with friends, time to self (this one should be in moderation). Unhealthy/risky: cutting, risky sex, taking unnecessary risks, drugs, illegal activity.”

Using music as a coping mechanism is often the best route compared to other ones people often use. It is non-violent, easy, and accessible almost anytime you want it to be.

Music can be a fantastic outlet to really get emotions out, relax, and calm down after a very stressful day. Listening to an uplifting playlist can help create those happy hormones or “feel good chemicals” throughout the brain and make you feel better.