Finding Relaxation Music that Works for You

Good afternoon, all! I was thrilled to present yesterday at a Cancer 101 group sponsored by Cancer Services in Baton Rouge, and one of the things I enjoyed the most was talking about tips for finding the best relaxation music.  Listening to music while practicing breathing, meditation, prayer, or even progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety (and insomnia as well for those who have trouble sleeping!), but the trick can be finding music that perfectly complements those practices.

Below are some tips from my music therapy training (as well as personal experience) on how to select the perfect relaxation track, as well as a sample of some that I enjoy!

  • First and MOST IMPORTANT: Relaxation is subjective, so treat it as such when looking for music. What someone else may find relaxing may be stimulating or even annoying for you, and that’s okay!
  • Instrumental music (no words) is usually best, as it allows thoughts to turn inward rather than towards the lyrics.
  • Look for music that stays the same slow pace throughout (does not get faster or change tempos suddenly).  Some relaxation tracks may get progressively slower to deepen relaxation. 60 beats per minute (the speed of the second hand on the clock) is an appropriate pace for most relaxation music, but this could vary.
  • Similarly, look for music that does not suddenly get louder or softer, but stays the same volume throughout. (Many orchestral works, for example, feature large volume contrasts that are lovely, but may not be the best for relaxation!)
  • Once you find a track that you like, it’s beneficial to stay with it for a while.  Similar to Pavlov’s dog, in time your body will associate hearing the music with a relaxation response.

These are a few tracks that I enjoy, ranging from shortest to longest:


“Home”, by Secret Garden (3 min):

“Liquid Mind”, by composer (and friend of music therapy!) Chuck Wild (5 min):

Unknown, “Piano music for deep relaxation” (31 min):

If you have any go-to tracks for relaxation, let me know in the comments! Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing weekend. 🙂

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