Keep calm and play on this Stress Awareness Month!
From the North to the South, the East to the West, and everywhere in between, there are many things that may come to mind when you think about what it means to be British.
The monarchy or fish and chips may be some of the first things that you think of, for example, or perhaps it’s making small talk about the weather, or routinely checking the forecasts.
As temperatures rise and daylight hours lengthen, many of us are probably thinking more and more about the weather, and more importantly, the summer ahead.
Thinking about packing suitcases, grabbing passports and leaving day-to-day stresses behind – something that although beneficial in the short term, is no lasting solution.
According to research by the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of British adults surveyed suffering from stress said they have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope at some point over the last year.*
Amongst these, 16% also said that they had self-harmed because of stress, while 32% had experienced feelings of depression and suicide as a result of stress and the impact it can cause.*
Stress, unlike topics such as the weather that we may feel much more comfortable talking about, is not always something that we acknowledge or recognise, despite the impact it can have on both our physical and mental health.
This can include things like depression and anxiety as well as aches, pains, dizziness, fatigue and even high blood pressure, all of which can affect our day-to-day lives, including our work. During Stress Awareness Month this April, attention is turned to supporting the acknowledgment of stress and sharing ways it can be reduced, both in and out of the workplace, include taking regular breaks, getting a good nights’ sleep and listening to music.
Music to help switch on
Recent research published by one of the UK’s leading mental health charities, Mind, has found that listening to music can boost the mood and reduce stress by releasing dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. It can help to reduce anxiety, make people feel more upbeat and improve positivity and our overall wellbeing. **
In the same study, research found dopamine levels were up to 9% higher when listening to music that people enjoyed. Tuning into the radio or our favourite songs can help to relax the mind, increase happiness and make people feel calmer and more at ease.
Since music often allows us to zone out and channel our thoughts, it can also improve concentration and make us feel more engaged with tasks. It can add a burst of energy and focus the mind, preventing that ‘stressed-out’ and overwhelmed feeling, particularly when working to a tight deadline or ploughing through a demanding workload.
Music to help switch off
Stress Awareness Month this year is focusing on community and how important it is to make connections, build relationships and allowing people to feel a sense of belonging. Playing music can bring people together, create a more inviting environment and make people feel more relaxed as a result.
It could help to boost confidence and encourage conversation, both of which can be important when it comes to speaking up about stress and improving our overall wellbeing. Perhaps you might want to think about playing the radio in the workplace, for example, to create a friendly and more welcoming atmosphere, or you may want to play some upbeat songs in break out areas to provide a space where people feel they can switch off and take a breath during their hectic day. Whatever it may be, playing music can create a sense of familiarity, increase collaboration and could help to create a calmer and more appealing space.
So, whether it is helping to bring some mellowness into a meeting or some peace into your planning session, music could help you to keep calm this Stress Awareness Month, so that you can play on in whatever style works for you!