How Listening to Music May Ease Traumatic Stress

Learn how the sound of music can help us cope during difficult times.

By Google Arts & Culture

Johns Hopkins International Arts + Mind Lab

Somber- exhibiting the black experience by Latoya FitoorThe United Nations

When our lives are disrupted by the stress of a traumatic experience, like the pandemic, our mental health can be compromised. The constant disruption in our routines, the possibility or reality of loved ones becoming ill, the potential exposure to a life-threatening virus and the overall uncertainty of the situation makes it difficult for the mind to remain in a healthy, balanced state.

By Terence SpencerLIFE Photo Collection

Your Brain and Body on Music

Listening to music that you personally enjoy reduces physiological symptoms of stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and decreasing the production of stress-related hormones like cortisol. Music’s calming effect helps us shift away from “fight-or-flight” stress responses by activating our parasympathetic nervous system, allowing us to conserve energy, rest and replenish.

G.B. ENGLAND. London. Isle of Dogs. Bedroom studio (2005) by Simon WheatleyMuseum of Youth Culture

Perhaps the most potent part of music is that it’s pleasurable. The joy music brings us activates reward circuitry in our brains, bathing our minds in feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, which can lift our mood and help us process complex emotions.

Radio Operated by Child, 1922 (1922) by General Electric CompanyMuseum of Innovation & Science

How to Get Started Listening to Music for Greater Health


Using music to maintain your mental health right now is very simple. Turn on the radio, stream your favorite tracks, sing in the shower, hum a tune. The beauty of music is that it’s readily available from the comfort of your own home.

Learn more about the health benefits of music here.

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