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Science Finds Listening to Live Music Can Be Just as Effective as Medicine

Science Finds Listening to Live Music Can Be Just as Effective as Medicine

The number of learned and creative people who extol the power of music is many. Everyone from Friedrich Nietzsche to Bob Marley has a pearl of wisdom to offer about the beauty and power of a great tune.

But it is not just patrons of the arts who believe this. A plethora of recent studies have demonstrated what everyone from Albert Einstein to Taylor Swift knows to be true: Music is excellent therapy.

A study released in the Music Therapy journal published by Oxford University in 1983 certainly confirmed this hypothesis.

The study included 50 patients who each suffered from cancer. The ages of the patients ranged between 17 and 69. During the study, some patients were given music to listen to through a listening device. Others were allowed to listen to live music.

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After the 25 minutes of allotted music, the patients took a questionnaire that profiled the state of their mood. This was compared with the profile taken before the patients listened to the music.

The patients who had listened to live music reported that they felt better physically and that their mood had improved. The results also suggested that therapists can use live music to help relieve the tension associated with serious illness. The patients also reported having more vigor than those who listened to recorded music.

Researchers stated that “The human element inherent in live music is believed to be important.”

Music is not just excellent therapy for cancer patients. Parkinson’s patients also saw improvements in their disease when they listened to music. Some patients have shown real improvements when they listened to music that had a steady beat. The improvements were both emotional and physical. According to recent research, some patients see improvements in walking and other physical activity when listening to music.

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Come again?

That’s right, there are people working to make the melodic dream of music therapy a reality.

The name of the group is The Sync Project. The Sync Project will pair a user’s music service, like Spotify, with a wearable body monitor, like Fitbit.

The site then tracks the changes in the user’s heat beat and other data. The data is compared with the user’s playlist. This should demonstrate how the music they listen to during concert tours physically interacts with their body. The group collects all of the data from users and then passes it on to scientists who employ it in their own research.

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The biggest roadblock for music therapy research is that the issue is very subjective. Just as how one person could love rap music but hate country and another person could love country and hate rap, music tastes and its effects are hard to pin down.

Ketki Karanam, the head of science innovation at The Sync Project, put it this way: “The evaluations of what music does in the body were based on subjective responses and lacked the objective real-time measurements of physiology.”

The platform is still small. It launched at South by Southwest in Austin earlier this year and is still in the testing phase. However, it hopes to roll out its program to the public at some point.

Meanwhile, current methods rely on established research to pinpoint the things that many people already experience when they listen to music. One researcher wrote that “music can evoke activity changes in the core brain regions that underlie emotion.”

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It may come as a shock that the lyrics to Pharrell’s hit song have scientific foundations. However, if you are one of those people who feels compelled to dance whenever it comes on the radio, this research may not be a surprise after all.

Featured photo credit: MercyMe via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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