Music is an emotional experience. People say the rhythm, beat and lyrics of a song can affect their mood. Sad songs can make people cry, while bubbly tracks can reinvigorate a wearied soul. And now, new research claims that listening to music can also reduce stress.

In a study published on the JAMA Network Open site, researchers from the University of Vienna said they found evidence to prove that listening to music during periods of stress can boost a person’s mood, help them relax and reduce their stress levels.

Since the study was conducted during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team opted to look into whether listening to music daily helped lower stress and improve mood during the lockdowns and the stress-inducing restrictions implemented by the governments.

Anecdotal evidence and prior research already suggested that music could relieve feelings of stress. In their study, the group opted to establish a concrete basis for this claim. They came up with a smartphone app for use by the 711 adult participants in Austria and Italy. The participants were tasked to record their mood and music listening habits five times a day for seven consecutive days.

The participants also reported data on their real-time and real-life experiences in their natural environment amid the lockdowns. The study was conducted between April 1 and May 2020. Data analysis was performed from March 2021 to February 2022.

“In this cohort study of 711 adults, listening to music was significantly associated with lower levels of stress. Moreover, music listening was significantly associated with improved mood, particularly for those with elevated chronic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the scientists wrote in their findings.

Previous research showed that happy music could activate the mood-regulating parts of the brain. This was observed in the study as the team noted that volunteers who listened to happy music within the study period felt less anxious, according to Medical Xpress.

“The present findings suggest that music listening may be a means to modulate stress and mood during psychologically demanding periods. Individuals experiencing heightened momentary and/or chronic stress because of the challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic–related restrictions might consider music as an easily accessible tool for the management of stress and mood in daily life,” the team concluded.