If there’s anything that the tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this past week has taught us, it’s that you can’t predict a person’s mental health based on their outward success.
In some ways, we can even surmise that the more accomplished you are, the more prone you might be to anxiety and depression. In a culture that keeps escalating the pinnacle of professional AND personal achievements, constantly trying to keep up with such impossible standards can really drive even the best of us over the edge.
Mental health issues are silent killers simply because it’s still taboo in many cultures, including ours, to talk about them. This week alone, I’ve heard some of my elders dismiss Spade and Bourdain’s deaths as “selfish” and “puzzling” because they “had everything.” Heck, I even know some Titos and Titas of Manila who equate mental illness with insanity. No wonder some of us try to hide our struggles until it’s too late. Tsk.
So, how can those of us who struggle with anxiety cope? For some, prescription meds help. Others seek counseling, which can also be quite helpful.
There is one form of therapy that nearly everyone can benefit from, however, and that is music. And get this, some neuroscientists in the UK even claim to have found the perfect song for people who suffer from anxiety. It’s called “Weightless” by Marconi Union.
So, what makes this song so different from the others on your Spotify Chillout playlist? According to Lyz Cooper, the founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, “Weightless” is a combination of many music principles that have been individually proven to have a calming effect on the human mind. Given that Marconi Union actually collaborated with sound therapists to produce the song, perhaps this should come as no surprise.
For starters, the song has a sustaining rhythm at 60 beats per minute (bpm), which gradually slows down to 50 bpm. Thanks to a process called “entrainment,” where your brain waves and heartbeat gradually synchronize with a song you’re listening to, both the latter and your blood pressure slows down along with the song, thus reducing feelings of tension.
Furthermore, Marconi Union’s said composition has no repeating melody, allowing your brain to switch off while listening since it no longer has to predict what comes next. Random chimes throughout the later parts of the song also induce a feeling of greater relaxation, while the concluding Buddhist chant-like hums can put many listeners in a meditative trance.
As a result, out of all the songs Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson used in his study on music therapy, “Weightless” was found to be the most effective in reducing overall anxiety – by a striking 65 percent, to be more precise.
Lewis-Hodgson even claimed that the song was so potent that many of the participants reported feeling drowsy after the experiment. This led the UK-based stress analyst to warn against playing the said piece of music while driving or doing any other activity that requires alert concentration.
If you’re curious about what total relaxation sounds like, you can try listening to “Weightless” here. They also have a ten-hour loop on Youtube that might help if you have trouble sleeping, by the way.
We’re all under immense pressure to succeed, but no amount of money, fame, or both can ever compensate for one’s failing mental health. If we want our body and mind to last so that we can fully enjoy the fruits of our labors, we have to make resting a priority.
So the next time you’re feeling toxic from the constant dings, beeps, tags, calls, and texts from your smart phone, why not put those on mute for a brief while, and then treat your ears to something far more melodious? Your mind and heart will thank you for it.