This is the second of a series of posts I plan on making about things that help with various aspects of my mental health. The first can be found here.
The phrase “sound therapy” can conjure up images of new-wave alternate medicine practitioners, gathered around a tambourine or bongo drum set, but science has proven that sound can have an effect on our mental well-being. For example, we all know that being in a noisy environment can exacerbate stress and make it difficult to concentrate.
If you’ve ever studied you’ll know that some environmental sounds work better than others for you. I, personally, tend to aim for complete silence when I have to concentrate, however many others prefer the background chatter of a coffee shop, or the soft hum of an electrical appliance, such as a fan.
The same principle applies for anxiety and relaxation – what works for some may not work for others. Mynoise.net attempts to address this by providing a wide range of sound generators, each of which can be customised to suit the listener.
If you’ve never used a sound generator before, you might find the site a bit overwhelming at first. Finding the sounds that work for you can be a case of trial and error, but as I’ve already mentioned, one of the unique things about mynoise.net is that you can then tailor each sound to your own hearing frequencies.
As humans, we all hear things slightly differently. Depending on our age, whether we have any hearing damage (remember that ringing noise after a loud concert or film? That’s hearing damage.) as well as simple differences in the way our ears have developed, we will hear some frequencies (i.e. higher or lower sounds) better than others.
With this in mind, should you choose to make use of the sound generators at mynoise.net, the first place you should head is the calibration section. It takes seconds to use the simple user interface to adjust each frequency’s slider bar until you can hear it distinctly.
The site itself does a great job of guiding you through this, as well as providing more detail about why some “curves” may work better than others for you.
Once you’ve saved your “curve”, you can try out the generators to see which work for you. Some people find the waterfall sound calming, or the distant traffic noise. Helpfully, each link in the noises section is categorised through the use of symbols, so you can see at a glance which sounds are designed for sleep, relaxation, meditation, etc. Some are specifically designed to help block out background noise.
You’ll notice that one or two of the generators are only available to financial contributors, but the majority of them are free to use. (Note: I have no affiliation with the owners of the site. I just know that the site works for me better than other, similar sites.)
I find the fire crackling sound useful for sleep, especially in the winter.
I don’t use the ASMR whispers noise maker as I tend to use youtube videos for ASMR. In fact, I have a post scheduled to introduce and explain ASMR in terms of anxiety management, but in the meantime, more information can be found here, if you’re curious.
Music is extremely subjective. We all have different likes and tastes, but when it comes to anxiety management as well as management of other mental illness symptoms, there are certain features that I have found tend to work for most people.
Personally, I’m a metalhead. I love metal. I go to gigs, festivals. I buy the t-shirts and throw the horns. Metal calms me, it stirs me up when I need to. I feel very much a part of the metal community and that in itself is calming. However, I understand that it’s not for everyone. In fact, I guess listening to loud, generally aggressive music is a fairly unusual way of dealing with anxiety.
What I have noticed is that across all music tastes and preferences, many people I interact with have found that soundtracks and certain kinds of classical music are effective in evoking mood. It makes sense, after all film soundtracks are supposed to enhance the effect of what is happening on-screen. No matter what kind of music you normally enjoy, you will have been exposed to hundreds if not thousands of film and TV soundtracks over the years. We are trained, through media, to associate particular kinds of music with particular scenes.
With this in mind, soundtracks can be a fantastic form of escapism. Great, sweeping soundtracks such as those used in epic fantasies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter tend to be the most popular.
8tracks.com is a particularly good source of all kinds of music, but there is an especially large base devoted to classical music, orchestral music and soundtracks. I strongly recommend giving it a try some time. In particular, here are my personal favourite (mostly) classical relaxation playlists:
- Safety by hope crocker
- Time by alianovnatalia
- The Storm Before the Calm by giulia c
- The Time Keeper by Harriet31/1
- Chill the F**k Out by casketscratcher (okay yes, this is mine)
- Transformative by darylgaren
- A King’s Heartbreak by amanda.orange
8tracks also features a handy explore function, where you can search for terms such as “chill” “relax” or “sleep” alongside styles such as “classical” “instrumental” or “ambient.” It can also be used in mobile form.
Send me your favourite 8tracks playlists in the comments below or follow me on 8tracks.