Stress Relief Music: Shake It Off Like Your Dog!

dog with headphones on

It’s a funny old time.

There’s a virus on the loose and we seem to have very little idea how to control it.

You are maybe feeling a bit more anxious than usual?

Some days you just wish for the old, common-day stress to come back. You know, the mask-free kind of stress, where you didn’t have to give everyone, even those people you like, a wide berth.

Well, it’s time to crank up the music and in the words of Taylor Swift, shake it off!

You may think you know stress relief music, but your dog has actually got the moves that turn any music into stress relief music.  Intrigued? Let me explain!

First, back to the basics of stress relief music…

Listening to music reduces stress

You probably instinctively know this.

It is not by chance that we tend to turn to music to soothe us. Nor is it a coincidence that we sing our children to sleep. Remember too, those beautiful scenes of Europeans during lockdown singing and playing music from their balconies.  It is a collective medicine in hard times.

Scientists delved deeper into this positive phenomenon and in 2019 published a study in the journal Annual Research & Review in Biology. They concluded that music does indeed alleviate stress and anxiety, and this can be seen physiologically in the very positive impact it has on our immune systems.

Our brains synchronise with the beat of the music.  Current findings suggest that 60 beats-per-minute is the most likely beat to induce alpha brainwaves. This is the brainwave pattern of a mind that is conscious but calm.

What music relieves stress?

Say stress relief music and people think calm and relaxing music that may help you to chill out, meditate or even sleep.  And indeed, this is what the above research supports.

The Dalai Lama even got in on this recently, when he released Inner World for his 85th birthday a recording of prayers for meditation set to ambient instrumentals.

That’s great.  Who doesn’t like ambient from time to time?  But we can all have enough of panpipes.

The good news is, it is not the only music that relieves stress as music also has an effect on the emotional body.  Put simply, if you are listening to something upbeat, it can brighten your mood. Listen to something you like, and it will make you happy.

It is often about kicking back and just tuning in to what speaks to you at the time. Everyone has their own favourite genres of music. Peoples’ moods can vary from one minute to the next.  One evening ABBA Gold might hit the spot, and the next some German techno.

lady dancing in her kitchen

Your dog can help you maximise the benefits of music

Who hasn’t danced around the kitchen to their favourite song?  Who hasn’t busted a few moves in their underwear, when getting ready for a night out with the music playing?

I know what you are thinking … I mentioned dogs and to your knowledge, dogs don’t have any dance moves!

No, they don’t, but they do shake!

And do you know why they shake? It is to release the accumulated stress in their body.  They literally shake it off.

Do you ever feel your body automatically clench when you are under stress?

It is basically our body’s central nervous system that has flipped to a learnt set of reflexes and habits.  It’s the flight-or-flight mechanism that kicks in.  All mammals have the fight-or-flight response. Faced with danger, it makes them run or freeze up, and sometimes saves their lives. However, what all other mammals do, apart from humans, is they then shake their bodies to calm themselves down.

Humans have unlearnt this physiological response. We don’t shake. We bottle it all up.

Shaking is the new stress relief trend

The practice of Qi Gong has long used shaking to transform stress into energy, or chi.

More recently, Gabrielle Bernstein, LA-based coach to the stars has been running a Kundalini Yoga technique where you shake your hands in the air for three minutes.

And there is also a specific therapy called Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) which provokes shaking in the body to release current and accumulated stress in the body.

This therapy helps to reprogram the mind and the central nervous system, whereby the fight-or-flight reflex has caused the brain to get stuck in defensive strategies.

lady in reclining butterfly pose

TRE asks you to lie on the floor in the reclining butterfly position and ever so slowly bring the legs back up to centre for the knees to meet (over about 15 minutes for a beginner).  The legs will start to tremble and these shivers will then gradually move into other areas of the body.

TRE was actually developed for PTSD patients by David Berceli, an American aid worker and psychologist.  In the 1990s he spent time in the Far East and Africa. It was a cheap and easy response to a growing problem.  Certified TRE practitioners can be contacted to apply these techniques to trauma patients of all sorts.

For simple stress relief, you can use these techniques at home.  Check out this video.

Shaking has a wealth of knock-on effects

Can you imagine the energy it consumes for your body to stay on constant, tense alert?  Shaking not only allows you to release the stress from your body, but also allows you to allocate energy to other bodily functions.

We already spoke about an improved immune system, but would you say no to better skin, hair and improved digestion too?  Shaking makes for a happier and healthier you!

dog with shades on

So, what’s stopping you?!

Do you want to feel the combined benefits of music and shaking?

You don’t need an LA guru or a therapist to try it out.

Here is some stress relief music. It is a playlist of songs that contain the word shake in the title, some old and some more recent.

Just play one of these songs and start shaking your arms and legs. Then shake the rest of your body, moving your way around the room as you go.

At the end of the song, ask yourself how you feel!

Happy shaking!

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