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Apr 24, 2024

Bilateral Music for Stress and Anxiety

How ‘Bilateral’ music can help you move through stress, anxiety and maybe trauma



Let’s dive into Bilateral music and how it can be used to support you move through uncomfortable emotions, stress and anxiety.

Music has powerful effects on the nervous system, we experience this almost daily even without realising. As individuals we form strong associations with songs which evoke positive memories or emotions – you probably have them in a Spotify playlist and instinctively play them when you feel down.

Music stimulates many areas in the brain, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens and the mesolimbic dopamine system. It is for this reason in music therapy that a therapist will use music – often bilateral – to help people work through various issues.

When listening to bilateral music with headphones listeners hear the music alternating between the left and right ear without a predictable pattern, as if gently rocking back and forth between the ears. This triggers “dual attention stimulation (DAS)” assisting the brain to process difficult memories that trigger anxiety and trauma (this harmonisation between the left and right brain occurs in the flotation tank too!)

By using bilateral music to help the brain process stress or discomfort caused by past memories, eventually those memories can be experienced or felt without triggering severe anxiety or stress.

As research shows, bilateral music can reduce feelings of overwhelm and promote a sense of calmness due to the rhythmic alternation of sounds which shift the brain into a calmer state. You can harness this shift to help:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve emotional regulation
  • Enhance your meditation and mindfulness practice
  • Increase focus and concentration
  • Manage insomnia or difficulties at bedtime – bilateral music is a suitable tool for children too.


All you need is a pair of headphones or speakers with left and right channels, a Spotify playlist (Scan the QR Code for our favourite) and at least 15 minutes. Try using this simple tool in your everyday; perhaps on your work commute, while practising yoga or at bedtime and share your experience with us!