Here’s another reason to relax to some good music, especially if you’re in pain. One recent study suggests that listening to music can reduce pain in highly anxious people who can easily become absorbed in activities.
Researchers from the University of Utah Pain Research Center wanted to figure out whether music might divert attention from pain, so they had 143 study subjects listen to music, follow the melodies and identify “deviant” tones. The participants were given safe, experimental pain shocks with electrodes on their fingertips during the study.
The researchers found that the central arousal from the pain decreased as the music tasks went on, so the music did indeed help reduce pain by providing “meaningful intellectual and emotional engagement.” They also found that the study subjects who were were highly anxious about pain had the greatest engagement; the study authors note that low anxiety might have made it harder to engage in the music tasks.