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De-stressing with Music for better Mental Health

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De-stress with music for better mental health


Music helps relax an agitated or stressed out mind – but clashing cymbals at high volume?


A few years back, a very innovative young Bank Manager with visions of changing the banking experience of customers took charge at my local branch.  I loved a lot of the ideas which included keeping menthol sweets and serving coffee to bank customers while they waited. This Manager has since moved on to another branch and I am sure continues the good work.

One innovative idea of hers that still sticks in my mind was the introduction of piped music to soothe clients while they waited.

Great technique as listening to music does wonder to alleviate stress. After all, doesn’t music soothe the mind of the savage beast? Similar logic would hopefully apply if the bank has messed things up and is faced with a savage customer?

I think the caveat of the type of music and volume of music was lost on the manager. A grave mismatch can result in the reverse of the desired effect which is what happened at the bank when classical music was played. 

Classical music, yes, but not when it is at the loudest volume possible and full of clashing cymbals and drums. The results were predictable – irate customers shouting to be heard and tempers flaring all around.  Clash and boom were the order of the day.

I happened to walk in one day and my customer feedback was to play soft instrumental.  I didn’t care if it was European or Indian, the piano or the sitar, just soft, gentle, and caressing to my ears and definitely at a lower volume.  

Years later, the piped music has been abandoned and the bank employees and customers don’t seem to be missing it too much. Harmony has been restored over cups of coffee and sweets.

My point is everyone has different tastes in music. We should listen to music that makes us feel comfortable not one that raises our blood pressure and which, instead of helping us to stay relaxed, creates stress.



Our music taste is unique for stress management


Music benefits your body in many positive ways 

Using music for curing illnesses and creating harmony has been around for hundreds of years in Eastern cultures.

In fact I’ve seen my pets calm down when I’ve played soothing music for them and this is a trick that many dog owners use with their pets but there is scientific evidence that proves the benefits of music.

In the article The power of music to reduce stress, the results of these studies indicate


  • Music’s form and structure can bring order and security to disabled and distressed children. It encourages coordination and communication, so improves their quality of life.
  • Listening to music on headphones reduces stress and anxiety in hospital patients before and after surgery.
  • Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
  • Listening to music can relieve depression and increase self-esteem ratings in elderly people.
  • Making music can reduce burnout and improve mood among nursing students.
  • Music therapy significantly reduces emotional distress and boosts quality of life among adult cancer patients.


Music is a significant mood-changer and reliever of stress, working on many levels at once.  The use of mantras and chanting at different tones and frequencies is known to influence the physical body and chakra centres in our body. Depending upon your humors and constitution, different sounds can profoundly affect your mental state and general harmony.

The secret lies in choosing what works for us and what doesn’t. In stress management, one size does not fit all. We are all unique and hence need to find our own music.

For some, listening to recordings of rain drops might be relaxing while it might stress out another person. Strange as it might sound but for some of us, heavy metal is the panacea for a stressful day.

Choose the right music for the right moment. If you need to relax, go for soothing music, one which allows you to relax and meditate. If you need stimulation, then go for faster beat music. Last but not least, when feeling low, put on the song that reminds you of happier times and let the associated memories help to raise your game.


Is music, whether listening or playing part of your stress management arsenal? Or do you have another technique? Do share in the comments box below!


Have you ever wondered why you are tired or cranky? Quite possibly you could be heading for a burnout.  Take the Karmic Ally Coaching Burn Out Self Test to double check (click the blue highlighted Self Test to access it)


Karmic Ally Coaching Burnout Self Test




Written by: Vatsala Shukla
Photo credit : Musicians from Pixabay

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34 Responses to “De-stressing with Music for better Mental Health”

  1. Renee Fuller says:

    I know many people who use music this way. For me, my peace comes by walking in nature and listening to the sounds of the birds which is music to me

    • Karmic Ally says:

      That is music too, Renee! How wonderful that you can listen to the real thing walking in nature. There are special music CDs created with the sound of rain,thunder and other nature based sounds to help people relax.

  2. Coming from a background in the music industry, I agree that music tastes are very individual, yet as a language, music speaks to everyone. Personally I am finding “music” playing everywhere I go, very irritating. I go to my hair salon and they have a mix tape which has so many different kinds of music that it becomes distracting and often unsettling. I think at times we are being overstimulated both with lights and music. Personally depending on my mood, I could do silence or often go for some nice R & B music. In the car, I always listen to James Taylor, Daryl Hall etc. All the same people I’ve loved for many years. Thanks for the reminder to make sure to keep music somewhere in my daily rhythm, Today it was James Taylor while driving.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      James Taylor is timeless, Beverley. I agree with you about the piped music. In fact, many years ago when I lived in Copenhagen, you could walk down the famous Stroget or Walking Street and hear music blaring out into the streets from the apparel shops. A colleague of mine told me that they did it to attract the younger crowd in to listen to the music and in the process they would definitely buy something. A cool idea for Sales and Marketing 101!

  3. Deb Nelson says:

    You nailed this one, Vatsala! “Choose the right music for the right moment” so resonates with me. When I need to get ready for a presentation or clear my head, I pump up the volume and sing loud and proud! When I need to relax, bring on the low-key music. I can definitely notice when I’m not listening to enough music – it’s more difficult to make decisions, and I’m just way too cranky.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I know exactly what you mean, Deb. The best music for house cleaning is heavy metal – especially Nickleback or Metallica. 🙂 It is interesting what you’ve mentioned of not getting enough music and feeling cranky. I’ve observed that the best way to deal with a difficult day is to put on a CD from a different era of my life, especially my college days to help me relax and get back into my groove. More power to Music!

  4. Tamuria says:

    Choosing the right music for the right moment is so important, but it’s also good to be open to new sounds. The other day I was listening to a mix in the car and one of my son’s (they are all great musicians) pieces – this one favours trance music – came on. I found my mood immediately lifted which was a surprise as I would normally go towards jazz or my own rock collection to inspire happiness. It took a while for me to appreciate this style of music as this particular son was trained in classical piano and showed great talent. Wisely he followed his dream, and not mine, and gives joy to many with his DJ dance music productions. My parents were both wonderful musicians so the importance of music and how it inspires is not lost on me, though sometimes, particularly after long babysitting periods, the sounds of silence are best.:)

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I can relate, Tamuria. My parents discovered Deep Forest via my music selection when locked in a drive together in the car with no escape. 🙂 You have a point about the sound of silence – I remember my nephew being very boisterous as a child and while I loved to baby sit him, I’d have a headache with the Ninja Hatori on tv playing in the background for 6 hours non-stop. It is another thing that after he would return home, I’d put on the channel to listen to the ‘noise’ because I was missing the little one. 🙂

  5. Lisa Swanson says:

    I grew up with music all around me & played the piano for years. I have different types of music for everything; my Sunday morning walk is Jazz, driving in my car during the week (and combining that with down time) is classical, days off 60 & 70’s classic rock… and the list goes on! But sometimes, just quiet can do wonders!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      My mother’s side of the family is quite musical, Lisa, and my grandmother knew how to play 3 Indian instruments as well as sing. So does my Mom and I learned to sing classical Indian music as a child but gave up because teachers were not available in many of the countries that I lived in. But the love of music prevails. It all comes down to my mood and I’m always willing to experience new sounds. Yes, sometimes the sound of silence is most relaxing. 🙂

  6. Love this post. I have images of loud and annoying music playing in the background and this time of year too much Christmas music. Don’t get me wrong I like Christmas music but not all the time. It funny too I know some people love the sound of water and I do as long as it isn’t a drippy sound then I’m looking for the leak.

    We all hear it different which is what make music so special.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Too much of anything in excess is never good, Heather, especially festive music which loses its purpose when played at loud volumes. I’ve noticed that even on the telly ads where the volume shoots up during the commercial. On the other hand, soothing music would attract me and perhaps even get a purchase out of me, whether I need the product or not. 🙂 I love the leaky faucet example.

  7. Gisele says:

    I totally agree that the right music for the right time can make a huge difference. Right now… I am not a fan of listening to Christmas music for 18 hours. It gets to be too much and then the stress builds up. That’s where my phone and ear plugs come in.

    I am a huge fan of using Binaural Beats to help relax or inspire. For about 2 months now, I’ve been using Brain.FM. There are different tracks based on what you want to do: relax, create, sleep, meditate etc. This is used every day, for sleeping, journaling, blog writing… and when a track is done, I just remove the ear plugs and put a different track on and just turn the speakers up just so there is background noise.

    Next week it’s license renewal and it’s usually a 2 hour wait. So instead of listening to everyone complain, I’ll just pop my ear buds in and listen to the rain track and I’ll be the only one there that is relaxed. At our bank, they have the news channel on and I do see value in that if there is breaking news, but I think music in the background would be much better for those in line.

    I loved your post!!!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I’m delighted you loved the post Gisele. I was so put off with the blaring music that I had to write about it. 🙂

      One of the shops that I frequent for my crystals and other metaphysical ingredients put up 2 Santas in front of their shop literally 2 days after Diwali so I’ve had my first singing Santa in late November. It was okay then but now, every shop is getting into the swing of things with blaring music to entice customers.

      Binaural Beats is good. A wise decision to plug into music that will keep you calm and shut out the noise of complaints. BTW our bank now has the news channel on but on silent. So one can look at the headlines and breaking news and then go home and find out what the news is all about.

  8. My biggest complaint is being put on hold with rock music loudly blasting in my ear. I love music and a variety for different situations. Something I love is being exposed to new music thru people posting videos. There are so many around the holidays. Fun and interesting post.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Blaring music is noise and hurts the head, especially when one is on hold on the phone. I can totally relate, Roslyn. I love discovering new music too. It feels like the introduction to a whole new world!

  9. Lisa says:

    Vatsala I am cracking up reading this…yes just because the music is classical does not mean it is soothing, sometimes it have the reverse effect forsure. I LOVE music, hearing, singing it and sometimes trying to play it. I would much rather have music on than TV.

    I work with kids that are developmentally disabled, sometimes when we do crafts we put music on, now it is Christmas music, the kids love it. We just listen to Pandora on my phone so now when they see my phone some will ask if we can have music all the time, it is really interesting. I wish they had more opportunities to “play” music in their worlds..perhaps one day

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Once the irritation over blaring music is over, it is easy to laugh at the experience, Lisa. 🙂 I love music too but at a volume that my poor ear drums can manage without distraction.

      I salute you for the work you are doing with the children. May God give you all the opportunities you desire to make a difference to their world.

  10. I have to admit when I saw your title about “destressing with music” Vatsala, I was excited, because I knew that that is the only way that I can totally destress myself in my life 🙂 Thank you for the awesome post! Listening to music always brings me peace 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Music is a wonderful stress management tool. Looks like it is also your secret mantra for stress free living, Joan.

  11. I love music – it’s such a great way to remove stress! The right music I listen to, depending on mood, can really help me get more energized, get calmer, or motivate me to push through a goal.

    I’ve been hearing some teachers also allow it in the classroom when kids work on a project – I think it’s a great idea.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Creativity and music do go together, Delia. I’ve seen my mother who is an artist put on her headphones and play her favorite Sufi music while creating her art works.

  12. Liz Benoit Cozby says:

    You are so right about the music. Research has shown that it can be used to sell anything from crystals to bread to clothing. Even music stores have certain rhythms that they play to encourage sales. The rhythms and beats actually match up with our brain waves, which is why we prefer certain types when we are in certain moods. Great post. 🙂

  13. I love music – and it is a great stress reliever for me. I love my rock and roll and some heavy metal; though I do appreciate great blues and some soft jazz. I do agree that the type of music chosen for things such as background music at the bank, is very important. Not just the choice, because some banks here in Rochester play Adult Soft Rock or even the Top 40 – however, it is kept at a minimal volume so we know it’s there but it is not distracting. Thank you for sharing! Best, Tamara

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I love music too, Tamara, and all types – provided the music is in the background and not distracting me from my intended task, especially at the bank or even when driving. 🙂

  14. Reba Linker says:

    Funny story! Hard to imagine the bank agreeing to this experiment. I appreciate your finding about music having the ability to bring stability and calm to the anxious, depressed and disabled. Other types of music have the ability to incite violence and even insanity. Pretty powerful stuff. Use with caution! xo

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Truth is often stranger than fiction Reba. 🙂 She was a newly promoted Branch Manager who wanted to make a difference – though this experiment of hers went off the wrong way. You are right about the various methods that music can be used to create results, some of which are not very positive. I prefer soothing music unless I’ve had a really bad day and then the only thing I want is head banging hard rock music to work out the angst and get back to normal. LOL

  15. Suzie Cheel says:

    This week I have been playing music more and when driving and it is so uplifting. Thank you for shring the benefits-xxx

  16. Joyce Hansen says:

    I’ve found that playing a musical selection from YouTube while I’m working in another tab, keeps the creative juices flowing. There are so many choices that I always find something new and stimulating. It also gives me a chance to experience different cultural pieces I would not normally be exposed to. Lots of companies use soft music in the background, but I think the worst offender is elevator music. You have to live through it until your ride is over.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Elevator music – OMG Joyce, I completely forgot about that! 🙂 Indeed listening to soft music can get our creative juices flowing and even improve productivity. Thank you for sharing your tip with us.

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