<p>Experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety can be detrimental to people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Research shows that music can influence mood and physiology in positive ways and is a popular device amongst young adults for managing their emotions.
The current mixed-method research aimed to explore the links between young adults’ musical engagement, listening habits, and their levels of perceived stress and anxiety. Study 1 was an online questionnaire completed by 104 individuals (mean age = 21.79 years, SD = 2.09 years), which gathered information on their stress and anxiety levels (using subscales of Lovibond & Lovibond’s DASS-21), how important music was in their day-to-day lives, and when and why they listened to music. A sub-sample consisting of eleven young adults (mean age = 22.18 years, SD = 1.12 years) were then asked to provide more in-depth accounts of how they used music throughout the day to manage stress and anxiety via an Experience Sampling Study, with a focus on participants’ main activities and how music affected their mood. Results showed that perceived levels of stress and anxiety influenced the reasons young adults chose to listen to music for, and that participants applied different emotion-regulating strategies when experiencing high levels of stress when compared with high levels of anxiety. Individuals’ liking for the musical stimuli they encountered, but not musical training or musical engagement, influenced the degree to which music helped. Overall, results contribute to a growing literature demonstrating how music is used by individuals to manage mood.</p>