Music Therapy for a Healthier Mind

They say that music calms the savage beast. It can also improve your mood if you just need a pick-me-up. Here are some ways that music therapy can help with conditions like depression.

Depression is a disorder that affects the brain. Different levels of neurotransmitters that are responsible for mood changes can cause one to be more deficient than another, leading to a state of sadness that doesn’t seem to end. The type of chemical imbalance can determine the treatment for depression, but for some, medication can be almost as uncomfortable for their lives as the condition itself.

Music therapy has been used to help people with various illnesses and mental conditions to manage their pain and promote healthy changes in the brain for more favorable outcomes. It is a new field of health care but has shown promise with conditions like cancers, ADD, autism, pain management and yes – depression.

What is it about music that makes it so effective? Well, you have listened to music. How does it make you feel? Think about the music in movies. In horror films, the upbeat and foreboding tunes cause your blood pressure to rise and your heart to race. In love movies, the low, dulcet tones can lead to tears. There is a reason for this.

Music is made up of notes played in specific ways. These notes can stimulate changes in your brain waves. The way those beats resonate can lead to brain waves resonating at the same frequency. Following suit with the brain waves is the heartbeat and breathing functions. When songs have a fast and exciting beat, your heart rate and breathing are just that much faster.

On the flip side, listening to slow movements in music tend to slow the breathing and lower the heart rate. This results in a near relaxation state that is affected by musical notes. In a relaxed state, the effects of stress may show signs of decrease in the body and the mind.

Depression puts you in a particular state of mind. So can listening to music. Think of some of your favorite songs. What images and feelings do they conjure up? By using familiar songs and those that bring about a relaxed or improved mental state, you can begin to combat feelings of depression that don’t include medication.

You can consult a trained music therapist or listen to music yourself and develop your own therapeutic regimen. Music therapy is being shown to affect blood pressure, boost immunity, decrease muscle tension and affect the body in terms of reduced stress levels.

Music can be used to not only help increase mood with conditions like depression; it can also combat stress, a contributor to depression. Try it as a tool to manage your condition.

How Phobias Interfere with People’s Lives

A phobia is an irrational fear that can grip an individual’s life. Some people who live with phobias may not be affected by them as much as some others. Here are ways that phobias can affect a person’s life.

We have all heard about some wild phobias like the fear of the number 13 or the fear of milk or dead bodies. These types of phobias, while unrealistic, don’t often affect people to the point of immobilizing them. You can conceivably stay away from dead bodies and the number 13 if you are careful. You can still live a normal life.

But, there are other phobias that can be very detrimental. Phobias are part of a category of mental illness that includes anxiety and fear. The difference between anxiety and phobias is that anxiety usually surrounds a situation or event and usually subsides once you are removed from the situation. Avoiding the situation can help you to stop the attacks.

With phobias, there are three types: social, specific and agoraphobia. Social phobia revolves around other people and social situations. This can be something like the fear of speaking in public or being in a crowd of people. That can be hard to manage in everyday life if you must take the subway to work or travel a lot on planes for your job. You are not scared of people per se, but the different situations involving them.

Specific phobias surround a certain object or issue. You may be afraid of dogs. This may even be triggered by seeing a dog and imagining what they may do to you. If you are fearful of escalators or elevators, you might have a problem entering buildings that go above the first few floors. It is not always convenient to take the stairs.

Agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped in a public place. Some agoraphobics avoid certain public places due to the fear of experiencing an attack there. In severe cases, they don’t venture out of their homes in public.

Any phobia has the potential to be debilitating if it in some way will clash with your lifestyle. There is no definitive answer as to why certain people develop phobias. Some may be due to trauma or injury that keeps repeating itself in the brain like a bad film loop.

In any case, even though the rational mind knows that the likelihood of the perceived fear occurring is low, the rest of the body refuses to accept this.

Treatment Options

Unless the fear is interfering with life, treatment may not be sought. In other cases, a therapist may try a number of relaxation techniques, behavior therapy, alternative therapies, stress management and eating regimens to deal with the specific phobia being experienced. Medicine therapy like antidepressants may be prescribed in some cases to accompany or be in lieu of other forms of treatment.

Phobias are irrational or unrealistic fears, but they can grip your life in such a way that you are not living at all. Find out about your phobia and seek treatment to regain control of your life.

Be Sun Smart

Winter time is no time to be inside. There are plenty of fun things to do with the family or alone during this time. But remember to protect your skin from exposure to the sun.

Even though the feeling in your skin is cold, if the sun is shining, you can get burned. It is the same as when the sun is shining but there are clouds in the sky. Without protection on your skin, you can get burned without realizing it until you get indoors.

One thing to know about sun damage is that it is cumulative. Exposure over time can increase the damage done to your skin. As we are all aware of, this can lead to leathery skin, age spots, blemishes and even skin cancers.

Protecting your skin all year round from the sun is important. Here are some tips to help you have fun in the sun and still stay safe.

* Wear hats – Even if you are going for a walk outdoors, wear a hat to protect you from the sun. If your hair is thin or you are bald, a hat will keep the sun off of you. A brim in the front gives added protection to your face.

* Wear sunscreen – UVA radiation is still a danger in the winter. It can penetrate your skin and damage deeper tissues. You don’t necessarily need a high sun protection factor but use at least an SPF of 15 on your body. Cover all areas that are exposed. Don’t forget the back of your neck.

* Wear sunglasses – In the winter, the sun can reflect off of the surface of the snow. This can cause a temporary burning of the corneas and lead to snow blindness. For a time, you are in effect blind. While it is disconcerting it is also dangerous to your eyes. Wearing proper sun gear can avoid this trouble. Be sure that your glasses or goggles have approved UV radiation in the lenses. Dark lenses are not the same and do not provide the same protection. You don’t want to be snowboarding and get snow blindness because of cheap glasses.

* Wear gloves – Even on walks, gloves protect the skin from drying but also from the sun. Kids who play a lot outdoors need gloves to preserve warmth.

* Check your medications – Some meds can have a sun sensitivity side effect. This means that your skin is more sensitive to light and can easily be damaged. Some medications can even thin the skin and make it more vulnerable. Use sunscreen and moisturizers to counteract that effect.

Your skin can be damaged by the sun even in winter. To protect you while you are out having fun, wear protective clothing and sunscreen.

Get a Maximum Return on Investment (ROI)

Getting a positive return on your investment (ROI) in all business activities is what a smart professional does.  Any growth seeking business owner wants a strong return on investment or ROI.

This means that the more you can get for your time, energy, money and efforts, the better off you are.  With that in mind, here are a few key ways to increase your ROI.

#1 Learn to Leverage:

Leverage means using a tool to gain an advantage. As a business owner you have several tools at your disposal which you can leverage into more. You can leverage:

  • Specific business knowledge or experience
  • Business relationships and partnerships
  • Current customer communications
  • Experiences and skills
  • Networking Resources
  • Marketing tactics
  • Policies and procedures

For example, if you have an association with a web designer and you’re a writer, you can leverage your relationship and provide more services to your clients by building partnerships with this other professional.

You can leverage your partnership, cross promote and even design a referral reward system. There are many opportunities to leverage your current business relationships and partnerships.

#2 Customer Communications

An example of leveraging your current customer communications is by using your site newsletter (ezine) to gain new customers. For example, you could host a sweepstakes and  announce it in the newsletter.

For example, tell subscribers who forward a copy of the newsletter to five friends that they get an entry into the sweepstakes. This motivates current subscribers to spread the word about your business.

#3 Data

Your current data and analytics are marvelous tools for increasing your return on investment. You can use this information to dig deep into your business operations and determine what strategies are working and which ones are not. You can then use the information to fine tune and optimize the strategies that are working while letting go of those that are not income generating.

For example, if you’re spending a lot of money and energy on a pay-per-click (PPC) program, you can use your data to eliminate the ads that aren’t performing up to your standards. You can then use the data to create PPC ads that have a higher click-through and conversion rate.

#4 Current Assets

All of your products or service portfolio that includes published content are a part of your assets. Your skills and knowledge may also be considered assets. You can use these to increase your return on investment.

For example, let’s say you paid a ghostwriter $1000 to write a 50-page report that you are giving away to boost your opt-in list subscribers. If you just stop there, you’ve not maximized your ROI. However, if you use that same report to create blog posts, articles, email messages, online courses and even Tweets for Twitter, then you’re truly maximizing your assets. You’re getting a ten-fold return on your investment.

Now the question is what can you leverage?

  • What assets do you currently possess that can be utilized?
  • What data are you collecting and are you using it to the best of your ability?

There are opportunities all around you. Take a look, create a plan and take action!

Steps to Improve Your Focus

If you work from home, one of the most difficult challenges you face time and time again is getting and staying focused.  Somehow, this becomes an even bigger problem when you have to reach deadlines or want to create new products or services. When big project is due, a product launch is pending, or your website updates are in the midst of completion focusing can be particularly difficult.

Here are a few tips and secrets to improve your focus and stop distractions.

#1 Work when it makes sense to work. Trying to force productivity in the middle of family chaos just doesn’t make sense. Children banging on your office door, pets needing to be fed and walked and a spouse who is wondering where the car keys are don’t help you accomplish a thing.

Find your quiet time.  Those quiet moments alone are the best times to be productive. Capture these moments or create them. Get up an hour earlier in the morning or stay up late if it makes sense.

#2 Prioritize. Sometimes we’re focusing on the wrong things. Answering emails during your productive time isn’t a good use of time. Writing blog posts or articles during that quiet time makes more sense. Create a list of priorities and focus on them during your quiet work times.

#3 Use a timer. It might sound silly but timers really make you focus on what you’re doing. All of the distractions take a back seat to your task at hand. Set the timer, a kitchen timer will do, to the amount of time it should take you to complete the task. Now, get to work. Knowing the clock is ticking forces you to pay attention to what you’re doing.

You can also use the timer for more creative ventures like brainstorming and planning. Simply set the timer for the amount of time you have to devote to the task. When the timer rings, stop what you’re doing and move onto the next task on your list.

#4 White noise. Some people find great success by creating some sort of background or white noise to work by. Music is a common tool to use.  Don’t listen to music that makes you want to get up and dance but rather find soothing music that seems to “sit” in the background. Instrumental music is often a good choice. Classical, jazz and even alternative music or soundscapes can work quite well.

#5 Set goals. This is similar to the timer method because it uses a quantifiable measurement to help you stay on track. For example, if you have a few hours in the morning and you have a report to write, your goal might be to finish and deliver the report before you take your lunch. If nothing else, hunger will motivate you to focus on finishing the report quickly.

Determine what your biggest challenges and obstacles are.

  • What’s preventing you from focusing?
  • What distractions commonly interrupt you?

Once you know what you’re facing, you can adopt the best method for overcoming them.  When you’re able to focus and eliminate distractions, you’ll get much more done. This leaves free time in your calendar for fun, family and perhaps even more work. To your success!