Sound affects us humans in many ways and hearing is a universal sense amongst all vertebrates on the planet. The reason for this is one of survival. We are programmed to react to sudden sounds by producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline because a sudden, startling sound very often means potential danger. Our rational mind may be fully aware that the harsh sound of breaking crockery poses no danger to us. That does not stop our bodies from reacting as if we are under attack. Our heart rate increases and we often cry out in alarm. And speaking of alarm…
If you have a traditional beeping or ringing alarm clock, change it! The way we wake up can have a significant impact on our mood, productivity levels and decision making abilities for up to four hours after we rise. Being awoken by a strident sound will not improve your mental alertness, in fact it may well do the opposite and leave you feeling panicky and disorientated. An effortless way to get your day off to a wonder start is to invest in a new alarm call. Waking to the soothing sounds of birdsong or running water allows your body and mind to begin the adjustments needed to transition from sleep to wakefulness. A gentle, rhythmic melody that gradually increases in volume will allow you to wake up more naturally, helping you to feel good right from the start.
The second thing to do in order to give yourself the best start to the day is to avoid listening to any news or current affairs programs until you are fully prepared for the day. Take a shower, dress and eat breakfast to the accompaniment of music or other recorded sounds such as Singing Bowls or chanting rather than the daily news bulletin.
Ready to Go
Once you have woken fully and are ready to start work, or to get on with your daily routine you can use sound in a variety of ways to help you to continue to feel good and to bring you all sorts of benefits. Sound therapy is excellent for reducing stress, whether this is a session with a professional or simply using music and ear phones to help you to relax at different times during the day. Many people find that taking just 10 minutes out of a chaotic or extremely busy day to simply listen to some calming sounds, music or spoken meditation for example, can really help them to avoid the feeling of burn out that occurs when we push ourselves to the limit. Perhaps less well known, however, is the fact that sound can actually give you extra energy in a completely natural way. Use music or the deep resonance of gongs and singing bowls to send the resonances through your body until you can actually feel the vibrations. You may be surprised at how much more awake and energized you feel just through doing this.
Make Better Decisions
Sound can help to sharpen our mental faculties as well as giving our physical bodies an energy boost. White noise helps to still the constant chatter of an over active mind and helps to break the cycle of circular thinking. Soothing, calming sounds such as gentle music or sounds of the natural world can also help to sharpen your focus and to filter out distracting or irrelevant thoughts and information. Regular practice with this kind of meditation very quickly brings results that last , and if you make a point of taking just a few minutes to still your mind before making important decisions you can save yourself a lot of potential trouble further down the line...
Tap Into An Endless Supply of Energy
Personally, I prefer to do my afternoon vagal exercises while listening to music. It gives both my mood and my energy levels the mid-day pick-me-up I need. So before you grab that second or third cup of coffee, you might just want to turn up the tunes.
But don’t just take it from me. Here’s what the science has to say about the energizing powers of music:
In 2007, a group of researchers from the University of Toronto found that listening to up-tempo music boosts mental processing speed and improves cognitive performance.
And a 2018 study from the American College of Cardiology discovered that up-tempo music provides motivation while you exercise (yes, please!) and helps you increase the length of your workout—providing you with even more energy for your day.
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De Couck, M. et al. (2019). How breathing can help you make better deciisons: Two studies on the effects of breathing patterns on heart rate variability and decision-making in business cases. International Journal of Psychophysiology. 139 pp. 1 – 9. Retrieved from: sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167876018303258
Schellenberg, E., Nakata, T., Hunter, P., and Tamoto, S. (2007). Exposure to music and cognitive performance: tests of children and adults. Psychology of Music. 35(1): pp. 5-19. Retrieved from: utm.utoronto.ca/~w3psygs/PsychOfMusic2007.pdf