A good way to relax is to take a walk, read a book, or spend an evening engaged in happy conversation with friends. A less conventional option might be dancing and listening to music. Dancing and music are both activities that can help your body and mind unwind from stress. In this popular music blog, we’re going to explore how they can work for you!
Dancing activates seven different areas of your brain at the same time, which has been shown by neuroscience research as being the key to happiness. It also releases endorphins that have been called “emotional pain-killers” because they can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD. That’s why it has been called the “dance drug.”
Listening to music is a common way for people to relax and unwind. It’s not just passive entertainment; listening to music has recently been shown to improve health. For example, in one study, patients who listened to music before an operation required less sedation and experienced less pain after the procedure than those who did not listen.
The key is finding the right kind of music for you. In another study, adults who listened to classical tunes experienced lower blood pressure while others had their blood pressure drop while listening to rap or other types of music with a strong beat.
While music is often associated with dancing, it can actually be used for relaxation without the use of movement. It’s been shown that listening to music that moves at a slow tempo (say, more than 30 beats per minute) is more relaxing than music at a rapid tempo (more than 100 beats per minute).
Roller skating and dancing are two common activities that involve music. Roller skating requires a free space to be able to properly move around while doing so. While roller skating might not seem very relaxing, research suggests that it does have some benefits.
A 1999 study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association analyzing the effects of roller skating on blood pressure found that roller skating led to lower blood pressure and increased heart rate. In addition, the participants’ overall stress level was reduced.
As described by Dr. Robert Novelline, a dentist who participated in this study: “When people are skating they let their bodies go and move in ways that they ordinarily wouldn’t. They have to shift their balance back and forth to keep from falling down.” It is this challenge of maintaining one’s balance while moving at high speeds that causes the stress reduction in activities such as roller-skating. This challenge also explains why dancing might lower stress.
However, there are other physical activities that keep you moving and on your feet that also encourage relaxation. For example, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that walking is linked to a reduction in depression symptoms because of the health benefits it provides.
In this study, researchers followed 2,000 adults for 20 years and found that those who walked more than 75 minutes a day had significantly lower odds of having symptoms of depression than those who walked less than 75 minutes a day. In addition to this time frame, researchers also analyzed data from more than 5,000 individuals aged 20-93 years and found similar results.