Instruments that Help you Relax

Published September 18, 2015 by Marni Beninger

Studies show that picking up an instrument can improve your overall well-being.

Learning to strum a guitar or play the piano could keep the stress in your life from becoming a chronic problem.

How it works
Studies show playing an instrument short-circuits the body’s stress response. In other words, when you’re stressed out, your body starts a chain reaction where the cells release stress-inducing chemicals making you feel anxious and overwhelmed. When you create music, this chain reaction is stopped.

Dana Marlowe, a technology consultant, says her music-making abilities puts an end to her stress.

“I cruise right into my toddler’s playroom, and I just jam out with his toys — the xylophone, the baby piano. I almost have ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ down,” Marlowe said.

It’s not about mastery
Doctors say it’s not about mastering an instrument; it’s just about playing a tune or two for fun.

“Typical music-making is based on practice, performance, and mastery. In recreational music-making, our intention is to feel comfortable and nurtured in a creative experience with absolutely no pressure,” Dr. Barry Bittman tells WebMD.

Other stress-relieving methods
If playing an instrument isn’t up your alley, consider an alternative. Doctors say everyone should have a stress-reducing method in mind to cope with troubling times as soon as they arrive. Consider any of these anxiety answers: Swedish massage, a walk on a nature trail, a bubble bath or a quick dip in a hot tub.