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03 November, 2008

How To-84: "How to Use Music Therapy for Relaxation and Stress Management"

How to Use Music Therapy for Relaxation and Stress Management

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Research has demonstrated that a variety of music therapy relaxation and stress management approaches are effective for people requiring rehabilitation. In addition, these approaches are also effective for healthcare professionals and caregivers. Benefits include decreased heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, anxiety, agitation and depression, along with general stress reduction, improved coping skills and better psychosocial adjustment. Music has also shown to be an effective sedative component in pre-operative and operative procedures. You can help yourself with stress management and relief by exploring the following self-help techniques, compiled by Institute for Music and Neurologic Function director of music therapy clinical training, Benedikte B. Scheiby, MA, MMEd. DPMT, CMT, LCAT.


  1. Take notice of how listening to various types of music and nature sounds with or without music can help you relax.
  2. If you play an instrument, record a piece of music that you find relaxing. Then listen to the tape when you need to relax.
  3. Listen to relaxing background music at work or during lunch break. Add some body stretching at the same time. This also works just before going to sleep.
  4. Participate in local community programs and centers that offer stress management and relaxation activities accompanied by music.
  5. Place your hands on a drum and become aware of the many rhythms that exist within you such as your breathing and heartbeat. There is a rhythmical symphony that is the homeostasis of our biology. Breathe deeply and play this rhythm for 3 or 4 minutes. You may reconnect with your inner natural rhythms, intuition, and feelings, and ultimately feel renewed.
  6. Consult with a music therapist to find effective recorded music for your needs.


  • Music with a strong beat can stimulate the brain and ultimately cause certain physiological processes to attune to the rhythm of the music. This phenomenon is called entrainment.
  • Slow rhythms can also encourage the slow brainwaves that are associated with meditative states.
  • Stress may come from anxiety, fear or other emotions. Sudden or long-term illness can certainly be stressful, especially if the patient is experiencing pain or problems with breathing. Tension caused by pain manifests itself not only in the part of the body that is experiencing the pain; it can be felt as stomachache, headache, or neck or shoulder tension as well. Likewise, when there are problems taking a full breath or if the respiration rate is too fast, the body may respond with anxiety and fear. Music can elicit the body’s natural counterbalance to stress: The Relaxation Response. It is defined by being in a physical state of deep rest where the physical and emotional response to stress changes and may cause changes in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, metabolism and muscle tension.
  • A music therapy practitioner can alleviate stress and help a person achieve the benefits of relaxation and stress reduction through a variety of specific active interventions that involve music.

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Sources and Citations

  • Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, [1] - original source of content, shared with permission.

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Use Music Therapy for Relaxation and Stress Management. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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