While listening to Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” is widely considered the way to get pumped up, music can also calm us down. Research suggests listening to tunes can distract us from stress and even increase our pain threshold .
Don’t Worry, Be Happy — The Takeaway
While sex can reduce stress, it may not always be appropriate to heat things up when anxiety rolls in. Luckily, researchers suggest listening to music is an effective way to reduce physiological stress (and doesn’t require taking any clothes off). In one study, college students performed an oral presentation with either Pachaelbel’s Canon or no music in the background. Scientists found those lovely violins helped reduce anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure in participants who presented with the tunes .
Music can also help with a situation that stresses out even the bravest among us: heading to the doctor or dentist . In patients from infants to 20-year-olds, headphones playing certain calming tunes (folk, contemporary, classical, and lullaby) may decrease pain and anxiety during medical procedures . And one study found music can be beneficial for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Patients showed better moods, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rates when they listened to music or worked with a music therapist . Researchers think music can distract patients from their misery and even increase their ability to tolerate pain . (Mozart makes that cavity filling a piece of cake.)
While the science behind music therapy is relatively new, some experts suggest the brain’s response to music can help ease pain and depression and could even enhance creativity  . (Who needs booze?) Slower musical beats can also alter brainwave speed, creating brainwave activity to when we're in a more meditative or hypnotic state. For some people, listening to slow music is also a therapeutic way to reduce stress, headache pain, and even symptoms of PMS .
Still stressin’ at night? Classical music may be an effective way to ease into falling asleep, which will hopefully lead to feeling more refreshed in the AM . Not a huge Beethoven fan? Don’t you worry 'bout a thing — just listen to this song instead.
Listening to music (especially slower tunes) can alter brain activity, which may lead to a reduction in stress and pain.