Music and the mind: how music can help you de-stress

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We spoke with Mary Hoang, head psychologist at The Indigo Project and Sound On Festival Future Beats host, to hear her tips on how music and sound can help us de-stress, especially in the lead up to exams. Read on for some easy tips.

How can music help us through exams, relationships and everyday life?

It’s no secret that music makes you feel good, but now the science has come out to help us understand why. Studies have shown that music can help us deal with our moods, decrease our stress and boost our immunity. 

What are some of those effects on the mind?

Pleasing music can reduce blood flow to the amygdala (otherwise known as the ‘fear centre’ of the brain), lower the production of cortisol (AKA the ‘Stress hormone’) and increase our dopamine levels. Music has also been found to release oxytocin, known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ as it enhances bonding and makes us feel connected to others.

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Do you have a simple tip for better harnessing sound in everyday life?

A very simple one - change your alarm! For most people, their morning phone alarms trigger a physiological response - i.e. you actually wake up on the defensive as the alarm releases an excess of cortisol. Starting the day with a shot of anxiety is not ideal. The best alarms are ones that start soft and slowly build using gentle tones.

A good place to start is the iPhone Bedtime App, Nightstand Central Alarm Clock, or even try purchasing from the “New Alarm Clock” album in iTunes. For a few dollars you can change the way you feel every morning.

What are you listening to at the moment? Any playlist suggestions?

One of my favourite finds of the last few years has been a Texas band called Balmorhea - perfect chill music for any occasion. Check out their album Clear Language. We’ve been having some fun with Spotify playlists at Indigo - check out Music to Quit Your Job To for some pump-up music or Keep Sydney Cosy for some acoustic tracks that work anywhere, anytime.

A bit about Mary

Mary is a psychologist and artist who thinks deeply about what makes humans lead meaningful lives. Founder of The Indigo Project, a progressive psychology practice, mental health organisation and community hub, Mary is also an in-demand teacher and speaker who has been featured by Vivid, Sunrise, FBi Radio and The Sydney Morning Herald. With a focus on the intersection of music and the mind, her street-smart approach attracts a range of creative individuals looking to unlock potential and enhance their mindset.

Check out our Spotify playlists to find the perfect tunes for you. Or check out our support services for international students.
Posted on:

12 Aug 2020

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