Anxiety is nothing new – the great ancient Greek physician wrote about it over millennia ago, as did Soren Kierkegaard in the 1800s and Freud in 1926. However, right now, we are dealing with growing cases of anxiety which is starting to affect the young population. The usual treatment for this problem are prescription medications, although some people try to relieve anxiety with yoga classes, meditation, massage or other relaxation techniques. Recently, many people are also trying musical therapy against anxiety, and according to British neuroscientists, a single song can indeed reduce your anxiety by up to 65%!
Anxiety and generation Y
A 2013 study found out that 57% of American female university students reported episodes of overwhelming anxiety, while in the UK, a third of young women and 1 in every 10 young men experience panic attacks. According to Marjorie Wallace, CEO of the Sane charity organization, generation Y people (born in the 80s and 90s) were born in the age of desperation.
“So, what’s going on? The rise of technology, overly-protective parenting and “exam-factory” schooling are among the reasons psychologists suggest for our generational angst. Another, brought up on multiple occasions by my peers and by psychologists I spoke to, is the luxury (as ungrateful as it sounds) of too much choice,” Rachael Dove wrote in Anxiety: the epidemic sweeping through generation Y. According to Pieter Kruger, a psychologist from London, people who don’t have a choice are more resilient, as they often have their life or others to blame for their wrong decisions. When you have a variety of choices, the blame is on you. “We become much more obsessive because we want to make the right decision every time,” he says. Blogger Claire Eastham (26) agrees with this view. “I spend a lot of time worrying about what I am going to do with my life. Previous generations had choice taken out of their hands. If you are told what to do it takes the pressure away.”
Decisions can paralyze you in this modern era. We may obsess with the different options for shoes, but the informational overload will eventually kick in and paralyze you with the exhaustion brought on by such a simple task. Technology is also to blame for anxiety – millennials are very attached to their smartphones and are always connected. However, there is a downside on always being up to date with everyone on social media. It’s called Fomo, or Fear of Missing Out. “Fomo is very real and can be a constant addiction that affects anxiety levels and a general sense of wellbeing,” says Kruger.
Social media makes us compare our lives with people we don’t even know, which can cause anxiety and even depression. Besides changing our lifestyle and limiting the exposure to social media, neuroscientists have discovered that listening to a specific song can reduce anxiety.
The creation of the ultimate anti-stress music
The scientists at MindLab International in the UK have tried to find what type of music is best for relaxation. The study involved subjects trying to solve difficult puzzles while being connected to sensors which triggers some level of stress. At the same time, they were listening to music while scientists measured their heart rate, brain activity, blood pressure and breathing rate. One song, “Weightless”, has reduced 65% of the subjects’ anxiety, and also reduced 35% of the psychological resting rates.
The song was specifically designed to reduce stress. It was composed by Marconi Union, musicians who teamed up with scientists to arrange the song carefully so it can lower the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. The song is very effective – one of the female subjects in the study became so drowsy that the lead scientist Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson advises against listening to it while driving.
Here’s the song – listen to it and see if it helps you: