The Power of Leadership

Executive Vitality™: Potential Stress-Buster

Executive Vitality™: Potential Stress-BusterYou may think this is offbeat – pun intended. Have you heard about binaural beats? Binaural beats refers to a technique where you listen to tones of different specific frequencies in each ear through headphones. This is thought to result in a change in your brainwaves which, in turn, has an effect on your mood, on your experience of stress, and on your ability to get work done. One executive we work with has discovered he is much more efficient when he uses his beats  during creative work such as designing a package for a new brand.

If you have not heard of binaural beats, don’t worry, they are not (yet?) totally in the mainstream. However, one article about this purported way to beat stress, improve sleep and mental health, and boost creativity and productivity states that their benefits were discovered in 1839 (see Do Binaural Beats Work).

Research has shown the various effects of using this technique. From Binaural Beats-Benefits Uses and Side-effects:

There are a growing amount of research efforts reporting changes in consciousness associated with binaural-beats. “The subjective effect of listening to binaural beats may be relaxing or stimulating, depending on the frequency of the binaural-beat stimulation” (Owens & Atwater, 1995). Binaural beats in the delta (1 to 4 Hz) and theta (4 to 8 Hz) ranges have been associated with reports of relaxed, meditative, and creative states (Hiew, 1995), and used as an aid to falling asleep. Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 12 Hz) have increased alpha brain waves (Foster, 1990) and binaural beats in the beta frequencies (typically 16 to 24 Hz) have been associated with reports of increased concentration or alertness (Monroe, 1985), and improved memory (Kennerly, 1994).

A balanced view of this technique appears in an article from Medical News Today (What are binaural beats and how do they work); it presents a sort of “all the data are not yet in” assessment.

The quality of the available research is mixed. Many of the studies confirming the benefits of binaural beats therapy involved small cohorts and used subjective measurements, such as questionnaires. There are few recent, high quality studies supporting binary beat therapy as an effective treatment for anxiety.

It appears that, as with any technique to reduce stress, people will respond with their own individual circumstances and constitution, and this drives the degree of effectiveness. When all is said and done, binaural beats lead to a meditative state. Meditation has been shown to increase focus and attention, improve memory, and help with emotional intelligence. One of the Harvard Business Review articles on meditation is How Meditation Benefits CEOs.

Would you benefit from stress-reduction? Is trying a technique that is not 100% scientifically proven for you? Only you can decide.

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