Listening To Music Lowers Cortisol (Stress Hormone) Levels

The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function, bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease.

The list goes on and on. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Studies have identified elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience especially in adolescence. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism.

The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome. There are two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress). Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaption syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is invigorating and often linked with a tangible goal. Cortisol returns to normal upon completion of the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide an outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire.


Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. Therefore music helps to improve mood and reduce stress. Hence reducing your cortisol levels. This is another reason to keep music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.

Written by: Amos Nsereko

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