Feb 04

Take a Break – Trade in Technology for Music

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Music Helps Heal Body and Spirit

According to recent medical research, anxiety, depression, and suicides (or suicidal thought) are increasing among youth and even children. Researchers point out that the same issues would also be present at an estimated 10 percent in the sports world. Therefore, we can assume that this would apply to our Canadian and USA athletes, who may or could be affected at one time or the other.

A large part of contributing factors is modern ‘tech tyranny’, which has literally taken over the lives of people as a control mechanism. People feel the constant urge to use their personal technology 24/7. People, young and old, are becoming or are already addicted! Look around, on streets, in shopping malls, in restaurants, people walking about or sitting with their smartphones in hand. Interesting that Facebook and Google executives do not allow their own children access to computers and smartphones, according to Fox News Interview 2018. They attend private schools where access to tech tools is not permitted! Executives have always known that their inventions would be addictive!

Here are some research facts…

As early as 2010, the study “Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in US adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity’ reveals the following statistics:

  • Anxiety disorders were the most common condition (31.9%), followed by behaviour disorders (19.1%), mood disorders (14.3%), and substance use disorders (11.4%), with approximately 40% of participants with one class of disorder also meeting criteria for another class of lifetime disorder
  • Overall prevalence of disorders with severe impairment and/or distress was 22.2% (11.2% mood disorders, 8.3% anxiety disorders, and 9.6% behavior disorders)
  • Median age of onset for disorder classes was earliest for anxiety (6 years), followed by 11 years for behavior, 13 years for mood, and 15 years for substance use disorders.

Study Conclusion

These findings provide the first prevalence data on a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents.

Approximately one in every four to five youth in the U.S. meets criteria for a mental disorder with severe impairment across their lifetime.

The likelihood that common mental disorders in adults first emerge in childhood and adolescence highlights the need for a transition from the common focus on treatment of U.S. youth to that of prevention and early intervention.

Present Impact


It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide. Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode. In a survey of 15,000 grade 7 to 12 students in British Columbia, 34% knew of someone who had attempted or died by suicide; 16% had seriously considered suicide; 14% had made a suicide plan; 7% had made an attempt and 2% had required medical attention due to an attempt.


Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things “never go their way.” They feel stressed out and overwhelmed. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends, and society. Today’s teens see more of what life has to offer — both good and bad — on television, at school, in magazines and on the Internet.

Teenage suicide in the United States remains comparatively high in the 15 to 24 age group with 5,079 suicides in this age range in 2014 making it the second leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24. By comparison, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for all those age 10 and over, with 33,289 suicides for all US citizens in 2006.

So, where am I going with this? According to recent medical research anxiety, depression, and suicides (or suicidal thought) are increasing among youth and even children. According to research, both TV viewing and mobile phone use may contribute to the development of depressive symptoms. Implementing household rules about the duration and content of TV could help reduce depression in young adolescents. What can be done to get athletes off their smartphones or reduce their daily dose of social media?

The Alternative Escape: Music

Turning to music is an alternative. Noted gastroenterologist Dr. Kenny Davin Fine at Baylor University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School: “How music has the power to heal what ails you” (see Reference) states: “Music can be just as powerful as prescription drugs as it treats the soul, and if you treat the soul the body will ultimately positively react.” In fact, studies show that music helps surgery patients heal faster, aids in pain relief, restores lost speech, and even improves the quality of life for dementia patients. Dr. Fine, who is also a musician, offers these tips on making music work for our health:

  • Sing to yourself: be it in the shower, taking a bath, in the car… singing gets the brain ‘firing’ in several different areas: including those regions responsible for movement, language, attention, memory, and emotion.
  • Take off those earphones: listening to music gives you much of the same health benefits as singing, but you can harm your ears by relying constantly on earphones. If you have to use them, be sure the volume is low enough to hear other sounds around you, especially if out for a walk in places with traffic or driving the car.
  • Learn to play an instrument: even if you never ‘master’ that guitar, piano, or violin, playing a musical instrument is one of the best exercises for the brain

On a personal note:

I always wanted to play the piano but our family could not afford it. The alternative choice was playing the cello in the school orchestra (free lessons and instrument) and sing in the school choir, which was well known for Christmas and Easter productions.

I was so engaged playing classical pieces that they were in my head while doing workouts in the pool. I played Mozart, Vivaldi, and Beethoven to swimming sets in the Breaststroke! Well, I forgot my lap count and I got in trouble with the Head coach… and had to start all over! Nonetheless, with a song in my head, I always was a happy camper!

Many of you may not know that I have chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL), which was diagnosed November 1989 while I was in Arizona on a sabbatical leave. I was rushed back to Calgary via car and a 24-hour ride. The diagnosis was 5 days to live. Visualization and classical music, listening and playing it in my head helped me through that period of my life while people around me in the cancer station were dying daily. I survived and held steady until 2011 when the cancer returned with a vengeance. Six months of chemotherapy 1x week, 8-hrs a day, shrinking to only 90 pounds (I am 5’ 9”), and living with my head in a bucket due to convulsive vomiting was horrendous. However, visualization of healthy blood cells and classical music got me through that episode. It really works! And what did my oncologist have to say at the 2011 cancer return: “ Well you have survived so long, surpassing records…. Now it is your turn! Nice medical statement! Yes, I have ‘beaten’ cancer for 30 years this coming November, and music is my ‘caretaker’!

According to Fiorella (2016), music can have a physical effect on the body; it can can help decrease emotional distress and amplify a variety of moods. It’s said that music is one of the few activities that involves using the majority or entirety of the human brain.

ReachOut.com from Australia presents ways we can use music for mental health:

  • Incorporate music as a wellbeing strategy in your life
  • Learn about the connection between music and mental health
  • Understand the benefits of music.

It has been generally accepted that both listening to and creating music can have various positive effects on mood and mental health. Incorporating music into your everyday life can help to:

  • Elevate mood and motivation
  • Aid relaxation
  • Increase the efficiency of your brain processing

Choice of Music?

Encourage your athletes to get ‘unplugged’ throughout the day and listen to music instead. They can create their own personal music therapy in a few easy steps:

Focus: Classical music is a winner at improving focus. Music that has a tempo of 60 bpm (beats per minute) increases the efficiency of the brain in processing information. The best way to use it is to have it playing softly in the background as you get on with your tasks.

Expression: The next time you’re finding it hard to talk about or express your emotions, try turning to music for help. Creating your own music – whether simply strumming a guitar or composing lyrics to a song – can help you express and process your emotions. It’s more about how it makes you feel, than how it sounds. Remember that no one ever has to hear your music if you don’t want them to.

Social connection: Music can stop you from feeling lonely or isolated. Whether it’s sharing playlists with your friends, or meeting new, like-minded people at your favourite band’s next gig, music connects people.

Creativity: Did you know that listening to or making music allows your brain to think creatively? So, whether it’s a creative project you need to complete, or some new ways to improve your mood, try some different types of music and see what works best for you.

Relaxation: Okay, so this isn’t a huge scientific breakthrough, but it’s worth repeating: music helps you to relax. If you choose the right kind of music, change into some comfy clothes and put your feet up, it’s a safe bet that you’ll feel relaxed in no time.

Motivation: You need to vacuum the house/study/get some exercise, but you just can’t get off the couch? Use your favourite music as a motivational force. Crank up the volume on a killer tune and chances are you’ll find it that much easier to get started.

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling…

But wood that needs igniting”…

Greek Philosopher Plutarch (46 AD-120 AD)


Fiorella, S. (2016). The power of music on students’ mental health. The Friendship Bench, November 14, 2016. https://thefriendshipbench.org/the-power-of-music-on-students-mental-health/

Merikangas-Ries, K., He, J-ping, Burstein, M., Swanson, S., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., Benjet, C., Georgiades, K., & Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A).

Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980-989.








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  1. Home Plix

    Great article …Thanks for your great information, the contents are quite interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.


    1. coach

      Thank you!Subscribe to the free newsletter if you have not already.

      1. coach

        Sorry to missed your reply…thought it was Spam. I am glad you enjoyed the article.

    2. coach

      Thank you for your interest and glad you like it. Sorry, i am late in responding!

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