What do Jazz Fest and Stress Have in Common?
Do you like music? To New Orleanians, Jazz Fest means good music, and lots of it. So, you might ask what could Jazz Fest and Stress possibly have in common? My answer is “MUSIC!” The reason is that one of the best ways to relax and reduce built-up stress is music.
Why is music such a good way to relax? There are many answers, but the key answer is also the key to stress. It is simple really. Music is a great way to relax and reduce stress because it can stop you from thinking. And, thinking is the #1 trigger for stress.
Thinking generally produces cortisol. To reduce the buildup of cortisol, you have to stop thinking. That is why focusing on your breathing, mindfulness, meditation, or exercise are great stress relievers. Most of the time if you are practicing mindfulness or meditation, you are not thinking and trying to solve a problem. You are burning cortisol when exercising so maybe it does not belong in the same group. My point is that music can stop you from thinking.
There are major advantages to using music as your primary means of stress reduction. For one thing, it is much more fun and pleasant and easy to do than most of the other things you can do to reduce cortisol. Music is usually easy to set up. Any type of music, well – almost – any type of music will work. It can be playing in the background while working. Then you can take regular breaks by sitting back and focusing on the music and clearing your mind of whatever you are working on for a few minutes.
Music uses almost all the brain areas. I’m not sure if this is a fair statement, but music like good jazz or classical seems to balance the nervous system. The more you can take a moment to pay attention to, focus on the music, the more it will work to relax you.
If at the same time, you practice a little breathing while listening actively, you will be surprised how much 5 minutes like that can do for you. You will feel ready to re-attack that stack of files on your desk.
So, how about putting on something you like to listen to, take a few deep breaths and then maybe move a bit to the rhythm. Shrug those shoulders. Relax your neck and shut your eyes for a minute. When you catch yourself in that big yawn, then you know you were successful. You reduced the cortisol. I think I will take some of my own advice right now.