Sometimes we need a break.

A time to regroup, recharge, and refocus.

In my experience, it usually happens when the demands of work and life pile up.

We feel it.

There are many different, long-term strategies we can use to manage stress in healthy ways, such as, regular physical activity, yoga, meditation, and eating healthy foods.

Hopefully, many of these are part of your daily routine.

But sometimes we need a break midstream. A pause in our hectic day. A peaceful time out.

I recently stumbled across some pretty cool research that can help.

It’s from a couple of years back so perhaps you’ve seen it. If so, it’s worth a visit again. If not, check it out.

According to a study led by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, listening to a single song can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety by up to 65 percent.

We all know music can be soothing…but wow!

In the study, Lewis-Hodgson had participants attempt to solve challenging puzzles as quickly as possible while hooked up to sensors that measured stress responses in their brains and bodies, such as brain wave activity, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate, all while listening to a variety of songs.

The top song – Weightless by Marconi Union resulted in a 65 percent drop in feelings of anxiety and a 35 percent reduction in baseline physiological levels.

On a recent international flight, I listened to Weightless and it worked – I felt relaxed, so much so, I dozed off while the song was playing on a loop.

This actually isn’t surprising since Marconi Union created the song in collaboration with song therapists, who’ve long-know that different beats, tones, and musical configurations can influence our mood.

As noted by Inc. contributor, Melanie Curtin, Dr. Lewis-Hodgson said that “‘Weightless’ was so effective, many [participants] became drowsy and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.'”

So you probably don’t want to listen to Weighless while operating a vehicle or dangerous machinery.  But for other times when your feeling stressed, grab your favorite headphones and take a listen.

Below is the full list of songs in the study (thanks to Melanie Curtin for linking the songs), and all are available on your favorite streaming platform:

1. “Weightless,” by Marconi Union

2. “Electra,” by Airstream

3. “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah

4. “Watermark,” by Enya

5. “Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay

6. “Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona

7. “Pure Shores,” by All Saints

8. “Someone Like You,” by Adele

9. “Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart

10. “We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (CafĂ© Del Mar)

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.


  • Dr. Frank Niles

    business psychologist, executive coach, leadership consultant

    Frank Niles is a renowned business psychologist who is fanatically focused on helping people and organizations succeed. He's regularly featured or quoted in the media, having appeared in Inc., Fast Company, CNN, NBC, NPR, and many more media outlets. He speaks worldwide and coaches leaders globally. In his spare time, he climbs mountains.