Anyone who’s ever exercised or runs knows that music can be a big motivator. A long run can feel a lot shorter when you have the right music playing on your headphones, and even a night out dancing can fly by if there’s a great soundtrack. Music can also help with stress and anxiety. Listening to music while writing or doing dissertation work might not be right for everyone, but it might be worth a try for some people. For me personally, I’ve found that the instrumental soundtracks to the movies The Hours (composed by Philip Glass) and The Piano (composed by Michael Nyman) are magic-makers when it comes to helping me get unstuck with writing. I don’t know why or how, but I’ll take it.

There’s been conflicting research about music while studying, for instance, with some studies touting the merits of classical music, and others saying silence is best. What has been consistently found is that music that is consistent in state, has a repetitive pulse, and isn’t too loud is best, and listening to music you really like is actually worse than listening to music that you’re simply neutral about. Which makes sense, because you don’t want to be paying attention to the music. Read more about this here. Try to find music that contains about 60 beats per minute, as this tempo has been shown to help get the brain to an optimal state for creativity and functioning. Overall, the consensus seems to be that it depends on the person. You know what’s best for you and how you work.

Whether you want to try listening to music for stress or anxiety reduction, or as background music while you research or write, here are some tunes to explore. If they don’t work for you, no worries – everyone is different. We’d love to hear your favorite songs that help you relax or get focused. Remember to keep the volume low, so that the background music is just that – in the background.

Some suggestions:

  • “Could You be Loved,” Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • “Raindrops,” Chopin
  • “Elements,” Lindsey Stirling
  • “Water Music,” Handel
  • “Berlin Song,” Einaudi
  • “Requiem,” Mozart
  • “Glass House,” Peter Tosh
  • “Four Seasons,” Vivaldi
  • ambient nature sounds (ie, rain, thunderstorms, water)

What songs provide you with relaxation or help you work?

Our editors at DE won’t be able to help you make a playlist, but they can help you with editing, formatting, research assistance, and consultations. For data analysis or methodology, our stats team provides expert assistance and can explain even the most complicated data in a simple, easy to understand way — especially for those who are anxious about math. Contact us today to learn how we can help you take your work to the next level.