If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress and need a way to release tension, there’s at least one very simple solution: Play relaxing sounds.
Although stress can be difficult to describe in words (it’s the feeling of stress that we know all too well), The American Institute of Stress (AIS) tells us stress’ most basic definition: “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” The AIS goes on to give a more detailed description of stress: “A condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” Can you relate?
Stress can inflict both physical and psychological ill effects, which many of us often endure. According to a 2014 AIS study, 77 percent of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Similarly, 73 percent of Americans regularly experience psychological symptoms brought on by stress. And 33 percent of Americans feel they are living with extreme stress.
Sound’s profound impact on us
Whether we realize it or not, sound can be a key player in our battle with stress. Some sounds represent the enemy, while others can be our greatest ally.
Sound expert and author Julian Treasure headlines five TED talks on the topic of sound. In his TED talk, “The 4 ways sound affects us,” Treasure explains sound’s power to influence us, body and mind: “Sound in a space affects us profoundly. It changes our heart rate, breathing, hormone secretion, brain waves. It affects our emotions and our cognition.”
Certain sounds can actually stress us out more — for instance, an alarm bell — by causing us to secrete more cortisol (the stress hormone). Recent studies suggest listening to artificial sounds can activate our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system while listening to sounds of nature can activate our parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. Inundation with disturbing artificial sounds — and a lack of immersion in the sounds of nature — might be contributing to your overall sense of stress.
“Without our natural soundscape, we are making ourselves tired, stressed, and frightened all at the same time,” says Treasure.
Play relaxing sounds for stress reduction
While many of the sounds we’re surrounded with may (intentionally or unintentionally) be causing us stress, there are sounds we can intentionally listen to that we know have the power to calm us.
As previously mentioned, science reveals natural sounds can help relax us. Here are just a few of nature’s sonic tonics…
- Ripping or flowing water
- Gentle breezes
- Ocean waves
Scientific studies also inform us that listening to music can decrease stress levels and responses. Below are several types of music various scientific studies indicate as effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
- Classical music
- Music of your preference and/or music you enjoy
- Music with 60 beats per minute
- Pentatonic music (music made on the scale with five notes per octave)
Sound masking sounds
Another type of sound science links to relaxation as well as better sleep are those that mask disturbing sounds. Here are several types of sound masking sounds you’ve probably heard of:
- White noise (such as static or a fan).
- Pink noise (for instance, natural sounds, such as flowing water or whooshing wind).
An app to play relaxing sounds & personalize them to you
A Berlin-based team of artists, developers, and scientists who deeply understand and appreciate the psychological and physiological impact of sound decided to collaborate on a new app to use sound to align body and mind toward any mood or mode. The recently-released app is called Endel, and it generates real-time personalized soundscapes to enhance relaxation, sleep, and focus. Endel’s sound engine is algorithm-powered, and it runs based on circadian rhythms (our natural sleep/wake cycle), sound masking (to help block out disturbing and distracting noises), and pentatonic scale (scientifically linked to stress reduction).
Users can select between various modes on Endel — such as Relax, Sleep, Focus, and On-The-Go — and then further experience the personalized touch of each generative soundscape. Endel tailors its sounds based on personal inputs such as heart rate, time zone, location, and weather. For instance, if you select Endel’s Relax mode on a clear evening where you are, it will immerse you in sounds specifically resonant of a crisp, unclouded twilight that reflects and enhances your current experience. The Endel app is now globally available for iOS. It is designed to be integrated into various technologies including your smart phone, car, desktop, voice assistants, and wearables. Check out an example of Endel’s relax mode filling a home with its soothing ambient sounds, below:
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Let Endel help you to unwind. We are building our smart environments to follow and support you during the day across multiple devices and platforms. iOS app is just the beginning — stay tuned! . . . . #smarthome #smarttv #homeautomation #soundhealing #relaxing #relaxing_time #unwind
Play relaxing sounds today
Endel represents the most advanced, adaptive, and user-friendly technology available to experience the relaxation that can result when you play relaxing sounds. Its sound engine generates relaxing soundscapes that incorporate all the relaxing sounds mentioned above, including natural sounds, pentatonic music, and sound masking sounds.
You can decrease your stress and increase your relaxation … starting today. Sound truly has the power to bring you peace of mind and repose of body. Endel has done the work to find the most effective relaxing sounds, combine them in the most soothing and harmonious way possible, and ensure they are adaptable to your current setting and condition for maximum effect. Download the Endel app here — or via the button below — and relax.