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Music to Help You Relax - Music Monday


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We learned that music can boost your mood in our “Get Happy!” playlist – but did you know it can have the same effect for relaxation? Relaxing music can be a great way to quiet your mind and calm your body. Whether you need a 15 minute break at work, or simply want to wind down in the tub after a long day, this playlist’s calming music can help your mind relax.

What makes a song relaxing?

The definition of “relaxing” music can differ based on personal preference, but there are studies that show there is a common thread among most “relaxing” songs. Research from psychologist Dave Elliot shows that the most relaxing music is music with 90 beats per minute, a 4/4 beat, piano and strings and narrow note sequences that move from low to high. Alternatively, research from the University of Nevada says that music with around 60 beats per minute can cause alpha brainwaves, which are present when we are relaxed. In 2006, researchers at Stanford University found that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication." In that case, is it possible your doctor could tell you to "Listen to two songs and call me in the morning?"

Relaxing Music Can Have a Medicinal Effect

Psychologist Daniel J. Levitin, PhD found that listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery. “The analysis also points to just how music influences health. The researchers found that listening to and playing music increase the body's production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells — the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system's effectiveness. Music also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” What’s great about music having relaxation benefits is that music has no side effects like relaxation medications would.
Relaxing music doesn’t just benefit adults, but can also have a significant impact on calming children. In a trial with 42 children ages 3 to 11, University of Alberta researchers found that patients who listened to relaxing music while getting an IV inserted reported significantly less pain, and some demonstrated significantly less distress, compared with patients who did not listen to music. Lisa Hartling, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta says, "Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures is a simple intervention that can make a big difference."

Relaxing Playlist

You can access this playlist by simply clicking play on the application below or by downloading Spotify on your mobile device and clicking this link: Music for Relaxing. (You’ll need a Spotify account to listen, but Spotify accounts are completely free, and you can log in using your Facebook account.)

Featured Oklahoma Artists:

“Already Dead” by Horse Thief – Oklahoma City, OK “Warm Regards” by Horse Thief – Oklahoma City, OK “Nightjar” by Moongiant – Oklahoma City, OK “Before the Fourth” by Chase Kerby – Oklahoma City, OK “For the Miner” by Samantha Crain – Shawnee, OK

Interview with OKC Artist, Horse Thief

We interviewed Cameron Neal of OKC band, Horse Thief about how music helps him relax.


Image c/o Hannah Marsh

What does music do for you mentally, emotionally, and/or physically?

Since a young age, music is something I turn to to get away from day-to-day monotony, to relax, get out of my own head and focus on something else. My feelings and emotions are really determined by songs. They can even make me go back to a certain time in my life. Music helps refresh memory, just like a scent can take you back to a time and place.

What is your favorite song to relax to? Why?

I really love the song “Loch Raven” by Animal Collective. This song has ambient noises and overall is very relaxing to me. You can’t really understand the words in the song which actually allows you to interpret the song by the emotions it makes you feel, rather than the words dictating the meaning.

What makes a song relaxing?

For me, it’s an intentional calming feeling and peacefulness in the recording. Musicians can do this by taking sounds that naturally occur in the world and recreating sounds with music. For example, water bubbling through a stream has a relaxing effect, and there are ways to recreate that sound through music.
On our “Fear in Bliss” album, “Warm Regards” and “Already Dead” allow the listener to create their own mental environment around the music. When there is lots of instrumentation, hard to tell what’s going on. Songs like these, with less instrumentation, are easier for your brain to wrap around which takes less mental energy.
To promote mental health awareness, Horse Thief is partnering up with Elle King by creating limited edition selling signed posters to sell during their upcoming tour. All proceeds will benefit a mental health awareness charity.

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