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Top 5 Benefits of Listening to Positive Music

Top 5 Benefits of Listening to Positive Music

Can you imagine living a day without music? I can’t, and I’m not alone. Americans listen to 4 hours of music every day. There’s no other activity that we do that takes up as much of our time as listening to music, besides work and sleep that is. Despite music taking up such a significant part of our lives, we rarely stop to think about the quality of the music. We care deeply about the other things we consume like food and TV. You likely avoid specific restaurants for being unhealthy, and change the channel as soon as certain TV shows come on. Yet, we rarely stop to think about the positive and negative influence of the music we listen to.

“Music can change the world because it can change people” – Bono.

Research confirms this.

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1. Boost your beliefs and ideas

Some of the most damning evidence that music can be bad for you is that music is a popular method for torturing prisoners. This was devised back in the 1950s and is still widely used today. You may be envisioning the sounds of keyboard mashing and car alarms, but in actuality, the top 11 most popular songs used by the CIA  to torture prisoners are songs by mainstream artists. Two of these songs include Eminem’s ”The Real Slim Shady” and “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera. Without digging too deep into how psychological warfare works, the essence is the focus on sexually illicit lyrics and culturally offensive topics. “If you play it (music) for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken,” Sergeant Mark Hadsell, of Psy Ops, was quoted by the BBC news.

Consider the types of music you hear on the radio and watch on YouTube, and how frequently they’re played. Most likely, over and over again throughout the day. Does your own playlist complement your ideals and beliefs or do you just listen to whatever is on? Take a second to think about it before you press play, and reconsider putting your well being into the hands of someone’s playlist or radio host. Positive music is just a click away.

2. The power of lyrics

“Music is processed across all of the brain, it remains in our long-term memory,” – Clement-Cortes.

Music is memorable. It’s designed to be that way through the use of repetition, rhyme and patterns. That’s the magic formula to how we memorize song lyrics. Chances are you still remember lyrics from your favorite songs from high school and a television ad that used a jingle. Have you ever stopped to really analyze the lyrics? You’d be surprised at what’s being stored in your musical muscle memory. “F*&k love, give me diamonds” is sung repeatedly in the chorus of a famous Iggy Azalea song. “You might as well open your legs up and let a *expletive* poke” are lyrics by Lil Wayne. Despite being a fan of both artists, those lines aren’t something I’d repeat in front of my grandma and are the last things I want stored in my brain. So knowing that you’re going to likely remember the next song you listen to, does that change your perception of the music you listen to? There’s enough bad news going on in the world to fill your brain with any more violent, grotesque or sexist thoughts. Instead, let music be your cheerleader by picking songs with positive lyrics. What are some of your favorite songs with positive lyrics?

3. Recalling memories with music

Hello Adele, I love your music but no matter how happy I am, your songs take me into a dark place over some memory from long ago I’d prefer to forget. Even Adele is noted as saying she can’t listen to her own music without crying. Chances are, your brain is filled with songs that are synonymous with a memory, like your first dance, first date and first car. But not all music memories are happy ones. “What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye,” according to Petr Janata, associate professor of psychology at UC Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain. “Now we can see the association between those two things—the music and the memories.”

If the music you listen to is associated with happy memories, then it likely provides you a pick-me-up and encouragement. If instead you’re spending your time listening to music associated with negative or sad memories, you’re unnecessarily causing yourself distress. Stop the whirlwind of negative emotions by ditching your old playlist altogether in favor of creating new memories. As Disney’s Frozen says, “Let it Go”.

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4. Change how the world sees you

If every person had their own personal theme song, it would be much easier to understand them before even starting up a conversation. The power of this is most evident during presidential elections where candidates select specific songs to represent their campaigns. This music becomes synonymous with them personally and their core messaging. The same goes for UFC fighters entering the ring. Music sets the pace and expectation of their fight, whether it be with the intention to motivating themselves or intimidating their opponent. Music has the power of creating association. Beyond just the lyrics having meaning, the musical tone, flow and emotion is just as important. “If we hear things that are in major keys, then we have a propensity to associate those with positive emotion. Whereas we hear things in minor keys — we might associate that more with negative emotion,” says Dr. Amy Clement-Cortes, an assistant professor at the Music and Health Research Collaboratory at the University of Toronto. Music with a positive beat can lead your day off to a positive start, and positive lyrics can lead your mindset to making the right decisions along the way. Do you have a personal theme song? Maybe it’s time for you to find one that represents you now and where you want to lead your life story next.

5. Make unpredictability an opportunity to thrive

It can be incredibly difficult to be happy when big changes are happening around you. Especially at work and in family life. Change can be stressful, whether it’s a new project with a huge learning curve, onboarding new staff or working with people you don’t like. Music has the power of helping overcoming some of this discomfort. Science has proven that music releases dopamine in our system, which makes us happy. According to a post on Discovery News, “People love music for much the same reason they’re drawn to sex, drugs, gambling and delicious food, according to new research. When you listen to tunes that move you, the study found, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction.” Great music can calm you down and encourage you to keep going.

The same is true in team settings. According to “The Mozart Effect“, studies related to people listening to Mozart’s music, listening to upbeat, positive music like that created by Mozart can induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental task. With the right attitude and a positive music playlist to cheer you on, anything is possible.

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Now that you know you’re not just listening, you’re remembering and being influenced, I challenge you to listen to positive music only for 30 days straight. Set yourself up for success by diligently choosing music that will be the soundtrack for your life and success.

Featured photo credit: Karolina Grabowska.STAFFAGE via pexels.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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