Musical Escapism: The (Cheap) Stress Relief You Need

Source: (Edited) Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

If you haven’t noticed online, musical artists, including Alison Wonderland at Digital Mirage and Lollapalooza, Porter Robinson and his Secret Sky Festival, and LIONE for League of Legends Mid-Season Cup (2020), continue to perform even with social distancing measures in place.

While almost every industry suffers from the effects of COVID-19, musical artists and the music industry continues to volunteer their time to raise money for COVID Relief programs while trying to spread happiness to the fans. Although the performances and music festivals are delivered online this year, we feel connected and happy when we see our favourite bands and singers jam out on our screens. Why is that?

Note: I highly recommend that you check out Alison Wonderland, Porter Robinson, and LIONE. You will want to listen to their songs on repeat – musical escapism!

Music Is A Form Of Escapism

Source: Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.

Jamming out to music is a stress reliever. When we listen to music, we enter another world. We listen to the stories sung, rapped, and expressed in lyrical forms that relieve us of our stress and improve our mood. 

In a (2008) study about the Effects of Music Interventions, “music acts as a distractor, focusing the [individual’s] attention away from negative stimuli to something pleasant and encouraging” (Nilsson 782). When we escape into our other world through music, we experience “something familiar and soothing” from our favourite songs that help us focus “on the music to aid relaxation” (782). 

According to the same study, Greek philosopher Pythagoras and Florence Nightingale both acknowledged music as a remedy and harmless therapy for our well-being. Pythagoras recommended, “music and a specific diet to restore and maintain the harmony of the body and soul” (Nilsson 780). Nightingale thought of music as an “aid in the healing process for soldiers injured in the Crimean War” (780). 

From historical notes to our own experiences with music interventions, we know that music calms us and relieves our stress levels, but how does it work?

Music Relieves Stress And Anxiety Levels

Source: Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash.

Listening to music online or live in a concert fuels us with enough joy to reduce our heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and blood cortisol levels” (Nilsson 802). Cortisol is a primary stress hormone in everyone’s bodies. Having our blood cortisol levels lowered to the healthy range means we are giving our physical and mental health a break from the stress we endured throughout the day. 

The technical explanation about music and stress is that music helps us “regain control over physical and psychological functions such as pain and anxiety” (Nilsson 802). After feeling happier and calmer from listening to a couple of songs, we are physically and mentally relaxed as discussed in Nilsson’s report:

“In clinical practice, music intervention can be a tool to support [patients’ emotional, spiritual, and psychological] needs by creating an environment that stimulates and maintains relaxation, well-being, and comfort” (802). 

Stress Relief Tip: Listen To Music (Properly)

Source: Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash.

At the end of Nilsson’s report, she included a few recommendations for music interventions to be used in clinical practices. 

Try finding songs that follow the below suggestions to relieve any stress or anxiety you feel. Begin by listening to:

  • Slow and flowing music that is approximately 60-80 beats per minute,
  • Nonlyrical songs to give yourself a break from other people’s thoughts and opinions, and
  • Your favourite songs altogether for a minimum of 30 minutes” (803). 

Takeaway: What Should I Do With Music?

Source: (Edited) Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash.

We all need a break sometimes. Listening to any music that makes you feel happy is a cheap and simple way to unwind from a long and busy day at work or school. Find relief in music by following the suggestions on how to listen to music properly. 

After learning about how music affects us, what do you think?

  • Do you see music as a form of escapism as well? 
  • If so, what type of music or bands and artists do you enjoy listening to?

Let me know in the comments below if you find music comforting. 

Works Cited: 

Nilsson, Ulrica. “The Anxiety- and Pain-Reducing Effects of Music Interventions: A Systematic Review.” Aorn Journal, Vol. 87, No. 4, Wiley for Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, New Jersey, United States, April 2008, pp. 780-807,, 31 July 2020. 

Image Credits: 

“Blue and Black Headphones on Red Surface” (Edited) Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

“Silhouette Photography of Person” Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.

“Woman Sitting on Brown Sofa Under Slow Down Neon Signage” Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash.

“Woman Standing Watching LED Light Musical Instrument” Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash.

“Black Wireless Headphones” (Edited) Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash.

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