Can we stop saying that the holidays are stressful? They aren’t!
The weeks between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day are chock-full of joy, sugar, and excess spending—but not anxiety. It must just be a weird coincidence that travelers attest to a 38 percent increase in stress levels during November and December. And that 44 percent of women report feeling more anxious during the holiday season. As for those who blame the average 10-pound pound weight gain on stress eating? Well, maybe they just need to turn up the volume on the “Alvin and The Chipmunks Christmas Album,” kick themselves into cheery mood, and back away from the eggnog—BECAUSE THE HOLIDAYS AREN’T STRESSFUL, RIGHT?
This time of year is normally one of the most anxiety- and stress-ridden periods for most people, and coming hot off the heels of one of the most tumultuous elections ever hasn’t helped blood pressure levels.
Normally, a combo of exercise, meditation, and self-care practices could help tame this soul-crushing anxiety. But it’s not feasible to plop into lotus post and practice pranayama if you’re stuck on the airport tarmac the night before Thanksgiving, and escaping for a run or workout while at home with family can seem straight-up impossible. So if you’ve got so much pent up anxiety that you can’t decide if you’re about to burst into tears or unleash an epic Twitter rant, we’ve got a solution.
Grab your headphones and listen to this song.
Although it’s a bit reminiscent of our more angsty teenage coping mechanisms (#tbt to spending high school with “The O.C. Soundtrack” on repeat), neuroscientists have been able to prove that listening to one song in particular lowers overall anxiety by 65 percent, and reduces the physiological markers of stress by a whopping 35 percent.
Using music to hack brain function isn’t a new idea—cultures around the world use music and sounds for centuries as a way to connect spiritually or improve health and well-being. There are even songs that stimulate beta waves in the brain, which supposedly deepen the feeling of “flow.”
But this song in particular—“Weightless,” by the group Marconi Union—was crafted in collaboration with sound therapists to help with stress … and it works so well that the researchers who orchestrated the song testing for Mindlab International advise against listening to it while driving—because you’ll fall asleep. Deep relaxation, right?
There’s a 10-hour version of “Weightless” for those really long days you might encounter in the next few weeks, but Mindlab also released the top 10 songs that were scientifically proven to help with anxiety if you need a bit more variety in your life. Adele, Coldplay, Enya, and Mozart made the cut, as well as a few lesser-known electronic artists.
We took the liberty of making a playlist for you on Spotify—download it and let us know what you think!