Classical Music For Studying

As an avid Spotify user, finding playlists that fit day-to-day life can change the way you go about your day. Much like listening to music when you worked out can get you pumped, or listening to up-beat music will get everyone on their feet at a club. Music shapes the way we walk through life, and benefits us in ways we might not be able to see.

Studying is not a fun pass time for anyone, and is often avoided and resented by most. Reading long chunks of paragraphs about topics we have no interest in most of the time, highlighting important facts and putting together notes and flashcards do not sound fun and sometimes they have very little effect. It is not guaranteed that any of these methods are helpful in absorbing information and most times just results in all-nighters, re-reading information but not fully taking them in.

Many college students, including myself, find that listening to classical music is a great tool for concentration while studying and keeps you from being easily distracted. This was proven through the “Mozart effect,” a study done at the University of California where they tested the standard IQ of students who spent 10 minutes listening to Mozart compared to students who waited in silence. Through this study, they learned that music acts as a warm-up exercise for the brain and allows for information to be consumed more efficiently. This proved to be true in my own studies. When I tried studying in silence, I found my mind wandering and I would eventually have to re-read previous paragraphs to get my brain back to what I was supposed to be consuming. However, I could absorb and remember more information, from textbooks and novels, whenever I listened to classical or lo-fi music.

Spotify has great options those looking for a good playlist play in the background while studying, and they are my go-to. Simply searching “study” on Spotify will generate an array of great playlists with classical music that will maximize your studying. Especially as exam season approaches, trying new techniques to ensure focus and productivity can be vital in our success. Listening to music has proved effective in my experience as it tends to ward off my stress. Even though going to the library and having peace and quiet to focus can also help, i find the silence to send my mind running towards other things so having music quietly playing in background can keep your mind grounded on the words being absorbed. These playlists can also easily be found on YouTube if you don’t have Spotify!

 

Wildlife Goes Wild

Just as we have started to get antsy and stir crazy during these last months, so has the wildlife. Due to the reduced amount of people wandering the streets and parks during the pandemic, it has made wild animals more adventurous and curious to wander into our neighbourhoods. There have been increased reports of animals being found in parks, attacking pets and venturing beyond their usual territories. It is unusual behaviour for some of these animals, especially as they are showing no fear of humans.

All over the world, there have been incidents of wild animals fighting over discarded food on the streets and potted plants, as some of them have grown accustomed to being fed by humans and no longer have easy access to food. These occurrences have even started happening in our very own neighbourhoods in Vancouver and makes me question whether it is safe to walk my dog in secluded parks or at night. Coyotes have started to show a new level of aggression over the past few months, attacking pets on leashes and even biting humans walking at Stanley Park. This continues to be a problem as more than 13 people, some bicyclists and joggers, report being chased by coyotes. It is important than while these animals start to show more aggression due to the change in our territories and lack of large crowds in parks, that people stop trying to feed them and instead try to scare them off.

As soon as provincial parks were closed early on in the pandemic, wildlife began responding to this change almost instantaneously. A resurgence of bears tearing through garbage cans, coyote attacks and even cougars. This is especially terrifying for those of us who depend on daily walks to get out of the house or having defenceless pets to walk every day. Not knowing the right protocol for when or if you encounter one of these wild animals can be turn a harmless walk in the park into a moment of life or death.

It is terrifying to think that wild animals are becoming more comfortable venturing into our neighbourhoods, and showing less fear at the sight of humans tracking them or coming near them. Teenagers and pets being hunted by cougars on their walk home is enough to scare us all into not leaving our homes. We can choose to see that as motivation to follow protocols and not gather in large crowds. However, it is sad how many wild animals are now being euthanized when they are spotted in areas of the city where they should not be. There should be better protocols when these instances occur, like relocating these animals to further expanses of land where they won’t find their way back to us. It has spurred some controversy on whether wild animals should be euthanized at all and questioning the ethics behind these protocols. Thousands of animals face this fate for simply crossing over into urban neighbourhoods searching for food and it calls to question the state of the wildlife if their only source of food is near civilization.

As things start to go back to normal, and we begin to go back to our day-to-day activities, the Nature Conservation of Canada believes that wildlife will begin to retreat back to their normal territories and the resurgence of crowds in parks and neighbourhoods will scare them away. As a wildlife conservation activist, i can only hope that we find better methods in dealing with these situations and more humane ways to ensure they remain away from civilization.

 

 

The Truth About Procrastination

One of my biggest downfalls and faults in life is procrastination. Many students are very familiar with this and fight every day to overcome it. However, it is silent and deadly, and sometimes you don’t even notice it as it creeps in and attempts to watch our dreams fail. Most of the time, we succumb to it, believing that despite this overwhelming need to postpone important tasks, that we will have the strength to get it done before it is too late.

Contrary to popular reliefs, procrastination is not a result of laziness or lack of intelligence Usually, it is linked to anxiety and lack of motivation. Even knowing that if I sat down and started working that it would be fine and I would feel relief once it was finished, I can’t bring myself to do it. The mere thought of having to do something would fill me with dread and usually I let that feeling win until I have no other option but to start. The panic of the deadline looming, just a few hours away, has always brought about enough motivation, even if it was just a small inkling, to allow me to work. The root cause of procrastination, along with anxiety and lack of motivation, is the fear of failure and self-doubt. Procrastinating behaviour is usually prompted by those of us doubting our competency and abilities, because the constant thought that “it’s not good enough” is constantly running through our heads. The self-awareness that procrastinating would not make doing it any easier and that it is not a good idea to do also makes us even worse because we know it won’t matter, we will still procrastinate. Often, I even find myself procrastinating letting myself feel bad for procrastinating finishing the task, in attempts to stop myself from feeling guilty.

I have found that success can still be achieved even after procrastinating and finishing an important task the night before or the day it is due. This always reinforced the belief that my work was better when done in a panic, even if it was done in a rush and with little concern with quality. In a way, the relief of finishing an assignment, after scrambling for an hour, rushing against time, always felt more rewarding than finishing it days before. At the end of the day, it did not matter if I started an hour before the deadline or a week before, I would still be unhappy and disappointed with the outcome, because of my self-doubt.

Even though it was something that plagued my studies since the early high school years, procrastination turned into a whole other beast when school became online. It became all too easy to put off all my important tasks until tomorrow or the day before it was due, because now I had all these distractions around me. Now having all those responsibilities and assignments after months in quarantine savouring the freedom of not having to do anything, it became even harder to find the motivation again.

After years of schooling and procrastinating my way through those years, it feels too late to start the process of overcoming it. Self-worth is not an easy thing to come by, and often takes a lot of time to nurture. Fear is what keeps from doing what we need to do, therefore achieving the results that would help with our self-worth and our drive. Being scared to do something because you don’t know how it will turn out or being scared that it’s not going to be good enough are usually two things most of us can relate to feeling. However, most of the time the only way to combat that is by doing it anyways. I have learned that putting my all into something, whether it will end up being good enough or not, feels better in the end than not doing it at all. Getting a B grade, or even a C, is better than a zero. Any effort is better than no effort, and that reflects on the quality of your work and how much time you’re willing to put into it. In my experience, rushing to finish it last minute is not a result of my carelessness but rather because I care too much, about failing or achieving success but maybe never be able to replicate it.

Accountability allows you to fight against the temptation to push it aside. Having someone, a friend or a classmate, to check in or sit with me while i work can make a huge difference in my worth ethic and quality of my work. It has been my only saving grace during times when I lacked the motivation to even open a work document. At the end of the day, all you can do is forgive yourself for doing it, and finding something or someone that pushes you and reassures you that sometimes doing anything is better than doing nothing.

School Strips Away Love for Reading

Books mean different things for different people. At one time or another, most of us have been given assigned reading for school and that means some of us only see reading as homework. Others, like myself, choose to live in two worlds. We use books as an escape from the real world into a more magical, sometimes widely unrealistic one. We are also the ones who thrived in English classes, who poured over hours of required reading and enjoyed it. However, most people don’t feel that way.

My first experience with reading was in elementary school, when teachers would read aloud to the class for half an hour in between classes. While some kids sat in the back to whisper among themselves, I sat at the very front, clinging on to every word. Even if you were not one of the kids listening, you still loved that little bit of time when we were studying and just listening to a story. However, this changes in High School. All the sudden, reading becomes studying and no one reads aloud to you anymore. Books go from adventurous and colourful picture books to “meaningful” literary work. Seeing the “classics” listed on reading lists became daunting and turned most of us away from books.

There are many reasons why these books never appealed to high school students and why I don’t think it ever will. Classics are relatable to students. Most of the time they have very basic plots that tend to bore students who don’t have a natural affinity for reading. The language is also very difficult. I remember sitting in class reading Shakespeare for the first time and looking around the room I could tell no one had a clue what was being said. Since we could not relate to the stories, we also had no interest in interpreting them and often when we did, it was underwhelming. Most of my friends have told me that the last time they read a book was in school and since then they have had no interest in ever picking up a book again. Even though I also enjoyed the stories and trying to interpret them the best I could, I could understand the pain everyone felt when we were forced to finish reading half the book before the next class.

I started to understand this more in college when I was expected to read Jane Austin for the first time. As an avid reader, you’re always told the books that everyone should read and that you’re not a real reader if you don’t know the classics. It is safe to say I did not care for Austin’s writing, as controversial as that is to say. I finally felt the pain my classmates had felt reading Shakespeare, Of Mice and Men and Tom Sawyer. Every paragraph felt like it took a hour to read and I would often find myself re-reading large chunks of text and still not being able to understand. It was the first time in my life as a student that I turned to summary notes online to write my papers.

Reading is an acquired taste. Not everyone can pick up book after book and genuinely enjoy themselves and the story and forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to be doing often ruins the experience. I think required reading ruined reading for a lot of people and traumatized them away from doing it again. Just like anything else we do for enjoyment, it has to be enjoyable. Just like forcing a writer to write about things they have no interest in or a musician to write music in a genre they hate, won’t get great results. It would have made a huge difference in our experience to have been able to choose what we wanted to read, however most books assigned to us were books that appealed to the teachers. Even in college, when I wasn’t being forced to read classics, I was assigned to read some of my professors’ favourite books which most of the time, held no meaning for me other than receiving a decent grade.

It’s a shame that reading became more of a chore for a lot of people, as it should hold the same value for us as music or movies. School ruins people’s desire to read, imagine if school had stripped away our love for music?

Covid 15

Gaining weight is something most college students must face at one point or another. However, during the pandemic, it seems the rest of the world has joined in our struggles with weight gain. If you have found that you have packed on a few extra pounds or that all the clothes you bought before quarantine either don’t fit or only fit with extreme force, just know that you are not alone.

It is safe to assume that when most of us were forced to remain at home for months at a time that it became hard to find the motivation or space to exercise and all too easy to hit the order button on SkipTheDishes. You would think that with how much food I have ordered off that app that they would have offered me a partnership by now. It is not a surprise that this has become a problem for many of us because when our routines are disrupted and our boredom increases along with our stress levels, that snacking and over-eating would occur. Especially for those of us who use food as a reward system. Food is known to give us an amino acid called tryptophan, that converts into serotonin in the brain. This is when some of us who are struggling with mental health or low moods during very stressful times, turn to food to make us feel better.

The “freshman 15” is a well-known occurrence in college students. When students are thrust into higher education and expected to manage their own schedules with limited time to work for funds and more time spent on harder workloads, it becomes harder to eat healthy and exercise. We are not financially able to buy a full grocery list of ingredients for a healthy dinner and often opt to ordering take-out that can last a few days or cheaper, unhealthier options for convenience.  Eating healthy and exercising also proved to become an even bigger challenge when everything became online. Those of us who started to work or study from home now had to set up home offices or find creative ways to create a good learning environment for themselves rather than building up a home gym. Exercising became a very low thing on our list of priorities, either from lack of time to be able to exercise on our at-home yoga mats, not having access to a gym or from the lack of motivation to get off our couch to do anything but reach for snacks. I was guilty of this as my only form of exercise for months was walking up and down the stairs of my house, to and from the fridge. For many of us, it was hard enough to maintain our mental health and sanity, let alone a healthy eating and workout habit.

Even if you were able to control yourself from the temptation of ordering take-out food, without the daily on-the-go routine we had before, eating home cooked meal would not be as beneficial if you didn’t actually leave the couch. Many people tried to keep active, even if they were not working out, by going on daily walks. But if you struggled with your mental health and social deficiency, you know that some days just getting yourself out of bed was all you could manage and usually that would warrant me an award in the form of a tasty treat. I found that even though my eating habits had decreased in the months before Covid happened, during my first year of college, I was still able to maintain my physical health purely from all the walking I would have to do from one class to another. However, as that turned into just closing one computer tab and opening another and sitting in the same spot in the corner of my room for up to 10 hours a day, my physical health hit an all-time low.

Even as we look forward to the reopening of gyms, some of us find jobs and other forms to keep us active when the pandemic starts to dwindle away, we will still have to face the repercussions of stuffing our faces at 2am at every night when our schedules were turned upside down. That can feel really daunting and out of reach so it’s important to take things one step at a time. Once our mental stability improves and we begin to live out our normal routines again, other aspects of our wellbeing that were comprised will follow suit. I don’t feel open to the idea of having to leave my house for work or school anymore because it felt all too easy to roll over in bed and be able to do those things from the comfort of my secluded room. However, what now feels foreign and hard to me will become my new normal again and we will adjust again just like we were forced to do a year ago.

Music Therapy Awareness Month

March is music therapy awareness month in Canada. A month for music and therapists to come together to advocate and educate the world about the wonders of music therapy. Music therapists strive to guide their clients through development, rehabilitation and their health goals through musical expressions and experiences.

Research has shown that music can benefit people struggling with depression and anxiety and therapists use music to promote mental and emotional health and can also help people with physical health problems as well. Individuals who struggle with mental health issues often seek solace in music, either for relaxation purposes or to simply tune out the world around them. People who struggle with social anxiety and have a hard time in crowded places, find comfort in keeping their headphones in their ear and playing music to make them unapproachable will also making them feel less alone.

Music Therapy Awareness Month hopes to share the benefits of music therapy to those who have never heard of it and wish to seek help for their mental health struggle through a different method. By using the hashtag #WorldMusicTherapyDay, musicians, therapists and advocates can share their stories and experiences on social media and encourage those who need help to seek help.

As college and university programs are changed to online lectures, students are expected to manage their own time and attempt to successfully make it through their school year mostly isolated. This new reality for most of us can be overwhelming and sometimes feel like it’s not attainable. The burden on students to teach themselves content can be frustrating and stressful. College students are also more prone to anxiety, depression and relationship problems which can affect their overall quality of life, not just quality of work. Especially during the last few months, with the pandemic still looming over heads and all of the uncertainty surrounding our future goals and plans, music can be a stabilizing source in our lives. Even if you’re not struggling with mental health issues, music provides a much-needed escape that we could all use right now and learning what kind of music to listen to according to your mood and feelings can improve the experience beyond just listening.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can help ward off stress to help students push forward during stressful weeks. Something that has been proven to help the human mind wave off stress is listening to music. Sometimes hospital patients will listen to music on headphones to reduce stress and anxiety before a surgery. It is also proven to help disabled and distressed children by bringing them a sense of security and coordination. Music therapy is also something that has increasingly improved the quality of life for cancer patients as it helps reduce emotional distress.

The Canadian Association of Music Therapists continues to make sure that every Canadian will have access to music therapy should they need it, as results from it have proved positive in the past. Music therapists are now part of many healthcare and educational services such as hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, clinics, mental. Health centres, senior centres, drug and alcohol programs and more. Not only by listening to music but also participating in musical expression, to find more creative ways to deal with mental health that are healthier than the alternative. Expression through music and different art forms can also provide a feeling of purpose and potential, and having something to look forward to doing everyday can greatly improve someone’s quality of life and outlook.

Use the hashtag #WorldMusicTherapyDay to share your experience and how music impacts your life and visit The Canadian Association of Music Therapists to learn more about the work they do for patients and students. Knowing how much music has helped with my state of mind, my concentration and overall happiness, I know a more directed and specific approach to listening to music or creating music through music therapy could only help me more. Sometimes we need more than someone who is willing to listen. Sometimes we need an escape from reality, from the everyday pains we struggle with and the mind clouding anxiety that looms over our every words and actions.

 

The Shadow Pandemic

When reports first began coming out about Covid-19, nobody expected it to flip 2020 on its axis. Schools were still in session, traffic still clogged highways during after work hours and restaurants were open as regular. Looking back, it feels like quarantine happened overnight. One day, students were attending school normal and then next, emails were sent out to students and employees to stay home and the process of making arrangements began. So many people lost their jobs and students were expected to adapt to online learning. The world became quieter, the streets deserted, and businesses’ lights were turned off, and no one had the smallest idea of how long this would last. As the anticipation grew, stress, anxiety, depression and other mental illness did as well.

However, what most of us seemed to gloss over was how challenging the near future was about to become for those struggling with mental illnesses or abusive relationships. I can bet it did not cross many of our minds that somewhere out there, victims of domestic abuse were in just as much danger staying in their homes than they were if they were to venture out into the public.

Even though crisis lines were still open, and used, victims lost the many hours of the day when they were able to escape the reality of their home lives, for either work or school. These short opportunities to leave their dark realities at home were stripped from people and couples were forced to work from home, with extreme pressure and little to no peace.

I sympathize with the victims of domestic violence, who valued the chance of leaving their home, even for small outings, to escape torment, but who were expected to quarantine for months with their abusive partners. As we all complain about being bored stuck at home, it’s hard to imagine how much harder this time has been for others. Learning about the statistics behind the rise of domestic abuse during the pandemic has opened my eyes to how lucky I have been, despite my boredom, to have a safe place to ride this out.

Many reports of domestic violence among partners have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. As access to trips and outings from their home and time with family and friends were stripped away from people, victims of domestic abuse were forced into quarantine with their abusive partners. Therefore, through attempts of keeping people safe, the regulations and protocols put into place to fight Covid-19 put others in more danger than anyone expected. Police reports that there was a spike in domestic abuse-related calls as soon as the stay-at-home order was put into place. With many calls to helplines and women’s centres spiked to more than double than the previous year, reaching more than 50,000 calls from April to September of 2020.

There are many things that may have prevented victims from either asking for help or being to receive it if they did. Even though in some areas, the number of calls coming into crisis lines had increased, in other places, the calls dropped by 50%. This means that in some places during the Covid pandemic, victims of domestic abuse had no safe way to connect with these services. Being stuck in the same house as their abusive partners, even googling safety measurements and help lines was something that end up putting them in even more danger. And as the economy continued to suffer and previously employed people were laid off and struggling to find other jobs, I think many victims were depending heavily on their own partners income. It was also not likely that if they were able to leave their abusive partners, that they would even be guaranteed a place to live as health restrictions caused shelters and hotels to reduce capacity. No matter the social distancing protocols and health regulations put into place, it’s important that everyone have a safe place to call home, with the pandemic and without. It’s important that the government provides a safe place for victims of abuse and the families of the victims to be able to live during times like these.

Many crisis lines are available in Canada with educated and comforting voices on the other end of the line. If the situation escalates beyond control and sound mind, always contact the police.

1-800-SUICIDE (BC-Wide) – 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Mental Health Support Line (BC-Wide) – 310-6789 (no need for an area code)

Greater Vancouver Coastal Distress Lines – https://www.crisislines.bc.ca/coastal

These resources are available to us to be used, and victims should not be scared to reach out for help. Sharing this information with others and letting the people around you know the choices available to them could make a huge difference. Lack of knowledge can be a victim’s biggest downfall. Many victims are scared due to threats, the safety of their children and themselves, financial situations and the lack of support from family and friends who may not believe the victim. Having access to crisis lines and professional who can help ease all those worries and fears can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Stop Asian Hate

Racism has been around longer than you. It is not something new that has us all shocked and asking, why is this happening now? Because it has always happened. Somehow through the harsh realities of the pandemic, many of us have finally opened our eyes to the injustices and prejudices happening in the world while others have chosen to believe the false pretences and inaccurate origins of Covid-19 to excuse their bigotry.

The second those words came out of Donald Trump’s mouth – “The Chinese Virus,” he said, I think most of us sucked in a breath and felt our stomachs drop. He directly encouraged the racist rhetoric, therefore encouraging the hate acts. The rumours spread like wildfire that Covid-19 had been engineered as a bioweapon by the Chinese and once those words took root in some people’s minds, it would not be so easy to change them. As the pandemic went on, the false idea that Asians carried Covid-19 brought on a massive wave of hate speech and violence. People getting screamed at in grocery stores to “stay away” or not to touch anything or anyone because they were infected. No one could ever imagine being approached publicly with so much hatred and blatant racism yet some Chinese Canadians who have experienced this have come to call themselves lucky, because at least they did not end up in an emergency room like others.

Over the last several weeks, other stories about violent attacks on elders in Asian communities, discrimination in work and school environments and cruel harassment in public and online spaces have also come to light. Just this past month, there were three mass shootings targeting spas in Atlanta, Georgia, killing six Asian women. Just another catalyst for the continued spread of anti-Asian racism during Covid-19 in the United States.

As someone who lives in a multicultural country, I want to encourage others to condemn hate and violence targeting anyone of any race. However, in attempts to not cater to the global perspective about Canada being a welcoming society for immigrants and not displaying racism in the same large-scale manner as the United States, it’s still important to acknowledge that this happens everywhere. Subtle discrimination is still discrimination. Whether that’s normalizing stereotypes or micro-aggressions.

Many GoFundMe pages and petitions have been circulating social media and spreading the word about Anti-Asian Violence is the first step to making real change. It is important to be the voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves and to be the first in any situation to shut down hateful speech or racist acts. There will never be a clear-cut way to stop racism in our society but the bigger the rally against it, the bigger the chances of it making a difference. Our families, friends, neighbours, coworkers, fellow peers should never have to feel persecuted for the colour of the skin. Other Anti-racism movements in the last few years have made strides towards change, but there is still so much to be done.

Petitions take less than 15 seconds to sign, and it could make all the difference in the actions being taken to eradicate racism. Even though, times have been hard over the last year with people losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, any amount of money donated to the cause is appreciated and used towards a better future.

Stop Asian Hate GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/stop-aapi-hate

More information about Stop Asian Hate and petitions to sign: https://stopasianhate.carrd.co/

 

Use these resources to learn more about the ongoing acts of racism against the undeserving and take the time to educate those around you, even if they are not willing to hear you and understand in the moment, we can only hope someday they will listen. Getting uninformed, prejudiced people to grasp the idea that xenophobia is the wrong way of thinking can be hard and frustrating because they are unwilling to yield the belief system that they have honed their entire lives, but it is impossible. There is only good to be gained by showing compassion and being inclusive to those around you.

Social Media Ruins Your Mental Health

The negative effects of social media on the youth’s mental health’s nothing we have not heard of before. It’s an ongoing battle that we choose to lose, because we are simply too addicted to ever give it up. With the largest social media presence and the most active, we pose the highest risk for developing mental health issues. Social media has the biggest effect on the relationships we have with others and ourselves, and it distorts the idea of what our lives should look like.

It seems obvious that people are developing mental health issues younger and younger than ever before, and it closely connects to how young we are exposed to social media. Getting a glimpse into other people’s social and love lives is exciting. We are curious beings, who thrive on being inspired by others and following the latest trends. We are also competitive, but not in healthy ways that push us to do better but in bitter and resentful ways, hoping to one up each other and see whose lives looks more perfect. However, we chose to ignore the obvious about social media and that is that everything online is mostly fake or altered to look a certain way. Whether that’s posting only the good parts of your day-to-day life or editing your selfies until you look like a completely different person or documenting a relationship that looks like “goals” to the outside world when it is anything but, in real life.

These insane standards are hard for anyone normal to meet, so most of us on social media feel inadequate and look for ways to showcase only the parts of our lives that others would see as exciting. This way of thinking changes the way we live real life as well. If everything we do is purely for the Instagram posts or the likes, are we really doing what we want to be doing? Is it actually worth our time? Does anyone actually care? I have learned to stop idolizing over how others appear on social media, how many likes I get on a selfie or who’s paying attention to anything I do. However, it does not stop me from looking. Nothing stops the curiosity from wanting the check up on people you should not check up on, or wasting hours scrolling through endless posts and deep diving into other’s profiles. Even in my attempts to stop myself from doing this by going as far as deleting the app or deactivating my account, I still found my finger inching towards it, my eyes scanning my phone frantically for my next fix. It is an addiction that alters our perspectives on our worth and deters us from being productive in other ways that could benefit us more.

Social media has also set a whole different platform and way of communication, that even as I grew up into it, I knew it was not normal. The idea that getting to know someone could happen through phone screens and sending ten second snapchats of our faces, covered in filters. Our inability to hold in-person conversation without constantly looking down at our phones instead of holding eye contact and focusing on one thing at a time. I am guilty of ignoring phone calls from friends and family because it feels less vulnerable to talk through text messages then be put on the spot. We need those extra minutes to sift through our thoughts and feelings before replying to a text or deciding to ignore it all together. It has allowed us to build new walls in our relationships, made us less genuine and it has proved to be detrimental to most. Things get taken out of context over text, people can appear to be fine over text and social media but secretly feel horrible inside and we can ignore the realities of our lives by diving deep into watching TikTok’s and YouTube videos until we feel nothing.

It’s a reality I do not know I could learn to live without, or if our society would even succeed or survive without it because it makes us feel grounded in what is going on outside our own lives. However, it makes me wonder how badly it keeps affecting our mental health and how it might affect the generations to come, if there is any way to prevent it. I think it is a lost cause, that we have fall into the trap of it and most do not worry about getting out of it. We have learned to use social media as a reward system, the same we would do with food, alcohol or sex. And almost as powerful because it satisfies our self-worth. It also makes me wonder why it matters to us so much what is going on in other people’s lives. Do we just need the reassurance that we are better off? The drive to do better than others? Or are we just intrinsically curious? Do we have more to lose than to gain from it?

I know the effects that it has had over my well-being and state of mind, and I think it’s important for everyone to notice that about themselves. If you feel better or worse after checking social media, and if the answer to do that is worse than is it worth it?

Remedy for Restlessness

 

There is no worst thing than not being able to sleep. Many of us struggle with it on a daily basis, whether we work full times jobs or study, we have all had one of those long endless torturous nights when sleep just does not seem to come. I have those nights more than I would like, to the point where it affects my ability to think, converse and get basic things done.

Over the last few years, I have tried it all. From being prescribed sleeping pills that would make me sleep into the afternoon and make me feel horrible after, to melatonin that makes me have weird nights to valerian root, which proved to do nothing beyond make me even more tired. Even with all the options available, sometimes our bodies are incapable of shutting off. I happen to be one of the unluckiest when it comes to sleep, juggling between insomnia and sleep procrastination, with one night proving more difficult than the next.

Insomnia and sleep procrastination are very different. Insomnia means that even if you’re tired, you’ll toss and turn all night, unable to let sleep come even into the late hours of the night. Sleep procrastination, I have learned, is a form of self-torture. This is when you feel tiresome, your eyes get heavy, and you feel like you could fall asleep the second your head feels the pillow. Yet, you can’t bring yourself to leave your desk, close your laptop, accept defeat in your attempt of pulling an all-nighter to finish assignments or even get yourself to stop organizing and cleaning your house. This usually happens when it feels like there were not enough hours in the day to get what you wanted to get done, done. This happens to me if I procrastinate in other areas of my life. If I don’t start an assignment until the day it is due, or let the piles of clothes overflow my chair until I can’t find it anymore.

In attempts to fix my horrid sleeping schedule, I tried changing my night routine more times than I can count. First, by leaving my phone across the room, doing a skincare routine and tucking myself in with no distractions. This technique proved the least effective because you learn, if you are anything like me, that your brain can be an endless pit of fake scenarios and dark thoughts. I could easily stay awake until the sun rose just thinking of thinking scenarios that may or may not ever happen and torturing myself with old memories. Secondly, I tried watching Netflix. Since this is something I do during the day, every day, my body could not tell the difference between 4pm and 4am if Netflix is playing. Another bust. Thirdly, I tried reading books. This is an effective method for many people but as someone who struggles with sleep procrastination, I found that if I started a book before going to sleep, I was not going to let myself sleep until I finished it.

The last method I tried was the one I was the most skeptical about, as most people still are. It’s called autonomous sensory meridian response, or popularly known as ASMR. Through YouTube videos, people put together specific sounds that cause a tingling sensation in the scalp and down your neck, according to your bodies preferred triggers. It provides the listener with a sense of calm and relaxation and can go as far as making the listener fall asleep. There is a stigma surrounding ASMR and the belief that it is meant to be sexual or comical and there are definitely aspects of comedy in some videos, especially eating videos with aggressive mouth and chewing noises. However, there is nothing sexual about it.

It is proven to help with mental illnesses and restlessness, which I can attest to. There are a variety of different triggers that affects everyone differently such as whispering, tapping, ripping paper, popping noises, hair brushing, etc. Not every sound will appeal to everyone, and I have heard from people who claim they don’t feel anything when watching ASMR. So, If this is something you want to try for your troubles, sleep wise or mental health wise, go into it with an open mind or it might prove to be ineffectual. It is a lot like how music can drastically help with your mood, except ASMR provides an overwhelming sense of calm. Since all the videos are done in whispers or soft voices, there are no harsh noises to startle you during your relaxation and some videos can run as long as 10 hours long, so you can listen to is all night long.

Watching ASMR in bed has proved to be the most effective method in helping me sleep and I have stuck by it for years now. I still feel embarrassed from time to time to admit to I watch ASMR to sleep and to relieve stress but due to its effectiveness, I cannot pretend to recommend anything different. After a few minutes of the tingling sensation, once maximum relaxation has set in, I will fall asleep with the lights on, phone in hand and video still playing in my ear.

ASMR does not claim to cure insomnia or any mental health issues and most people who make ASMR videos still encourage their viewers to seek professional help. However, it is something that alleviates some of those struggles and its accessible and free to everyone which is a plus since some people cannot afford to seek professional help. While others have found professional help to be unhelpful, like myself, ASMR is a great alternative to medication and sleeping pills.

The Movie Industry in Vancouver

The movie industry in Vancouver dates all the way back to 1913 and is ranked in the top five North American cities for filmmaking. Due to the lower prices and vastly beautiful scenery we have here in Vancouver, many movies that we know, and love have been filmed around our very own neighbourhoods. Some that you may not even know about. However, there are many ways to keep track on what is currently being filmed in our city. Many projects and their locations can be followed on Twitter or by finding signs handing around the city.

Vancouver is well known for providing dozens of programs on filmmaking, acting, production, marketing and distribution and Vancouver has established a record for production excellence. There are approximately more than 50 movies and 60 TV shows being filmed in Vancouver annually, along with hundreds of commercials and other productions. Some recent film productions that were filmed in the city include, Deadpool 1 and 2, Star Trek Beyond and The Predator. As well some pretty well-known TV series such as Supernatural for as long as 15 seasons, Once Upon a Time and X-Files. Vancouver has grown a reputation for being the third largest production centre in North America, not just only for its great sceneries but there are many benefits to filming in the city. Productions can take advantage of the tax credit incentives in Vancouver, such as the British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit, the Film Incentive BC TaxCredit, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the BC Digital Animation or Visual Effects.

I started working as a movie extra at age 16. Working on movie sets was such an interesting experience and taught me a lot about the industry. Most of the time was spent waiting around for scenes to filmed before they needed us, and that gave us the opportunity to meet new people and make new friendships. It was a great first job to have and it was easy money. Even though I learned a lot about set etiquette and how things run on a movie set, that whole world is still so mysterious and interesting to think about. However, It is perceived as quite mysterious and low-key because that is exactly how they like it and they know it makes the movie industry so intriguing for the outside perspective. It also gets people more excited for the final product when they don’t know much about it. Sometimes the whole production would be halted, and actors would hide for hours in their trailers when there were too many paparazzi’s and people waiting outside to see them. At first, I thought that was quite self-centered for actors to refuse to be seen or refuse to talk to their fans, but then I began to understand the frustration. No one who has woken up in the early hours and spent hours and hours on their feet, memorizing lines, and redoing takes would have the patience or be in the mood with deal with so much publicity. I began to understand why productions try so hard to be discreet when everyone had to spend hours waiting for the crowd to be cleared so that we could resume shooting. Disruptions can set back an entire day of shooting.

Sometimes productions will go as far as creating a fake name for big movies so that less people will be inclined to check it out. Fifty Shades of Grey was a great example of that. Even though I was hired to work on the set of that movie, I did not know that is was for such a big and well-known movie until I got there and heard the excited whispers about “Christian Grey” being there. To keep things even more secretive, sometimes workers on set are required to have their phone cameras tapped up to ensure that nothing about the movie, the production or the actors ever gets leaked online. Along with long and serious contracts outlining all the ways they could sue you if you were to ever leak anything about the production. They take things very seriously on movie productions and it can be quite intimidating.

As intimidating as it can be, it was the most fun I ever had while working. The long hours of filming the same scene, pretending to have the same conversations and doing the same movements over and over again can feel exhausting. You end up bonding with all the other extras or workers over how desperate you are for a break, what you hope they will feed you for lunch and if anyone wants to carpool home later that night. I made some great friends that I still have contact with to this day and that is how you begin to make long lasting connections that might help you in the future.

The movie industry is all about connections. The connections you make doing smaller jobs, such as being an extra, can take you to higher places if you keep contact with your coworkers and are pleasant to work with. And then there are connections within families and friends that can offer big opportunities right away, but those are harder to come by and it takes luck to land yourself in a room with important people that can get you there. A lot of actor’s struggle with this reality and find that the industry can be quite rigged.

The movie industry in Vancouver will continue to boom even after things calm down with Covid-19 and they may resume shooting. It is a beautiful city to film in that resembles many different parts of the world. I have seen movies that are based in England but if you look close enough, you can see the streets of Gastown. It’s a fun game to play when you know something has been filmed near you, trying to pinpoint all the locations. I think the industry will always remain a little mysterious and intrigue the public because it is such an interesting and hard job to get into. Everyone can say they wish they could be in a movie or have the skills to work in such a fun and bustling business. I was guilty of that for a long time since I was a kid. However, I’m happy to know that Vancouver is such an entertainment and talent filled place, it makes where we live very exciting.

 

Something to Get Into the Fall Spirit

As the summer season slowly dwindles away, rain clouds the sunshine and leaves turn into crimson shades of red and orange, it is exciting to start getting into the fall spirit. This time of year is a time of scarves, hot drinks and achieving the perfect amount of coziness. People will start to pack away their summer clothes and bringing out their knit sweaters and knee-high socks, placing small ornaments of pumpkins on their mantels and planning on how to be the spookiest house in the neighbourhood. Personally, it’s a season I look forward to every year. The palette of colours, the persistent rain, the fall smelling candles makes my heart feel cuddled. However, the weather changes and shorter days might bring a cloud of gloominess over some people’s heads and make this difficult and demotivating time ever harder to get through. It is important to stay safe and follow COVID-19 restrictions as per health official’s advice, but also stay family oriented and not stay isolated unless specifically required to. The fall and winter months are not cozy times for everyone, and we should all strive to take care of each other and check in as the months get colder and darker.

There is nothing better than waking up on a fall morning, cocooned in blankets, to the sound of the rain hiding the pavement outside and smell of coffee wafting from the kitchen into your bedroom. The perfect start to a cozy day. The family all gathers around the fireplace while some classic movies play on the television, and everyone sips on their coffee and eat their pumpkin bread. You all whisper and plan for the season ahead; the pumpkin patch you’ll visit, the treats you’ll make, how you’ll decorate the porch for trick or treaters, the movies you’ll watch. The reality of the world outside of your bubble will disappear and the rest of this year will go by blissfully with the wind and you’ll be glad you made the most out of the season but had also stayed safe and sound.

As stressful days and overwhelming loads of work pass you by throughout the week, just look forward to pumpkin carving contests with friends. Everyone will gather around the dining room table, with your favourite records playing in the background and nice hot mug of apple cider, maybe spiked if you’re old enough, and laugh and catch up on all the crazy and stressful things that went on during the week. However, that all leaves your mind as you start plotting the best pumpkin design, that will be surely to win against everyone. You all spend hours scooping out pumpkin guts and stabbing pumpkins with knives while laughing at your friends designs and drinking way too many mugs of apple cider. Sometimes all it takes is some good company and good drinks to make some of the best memories. And as Halloween approaches, you’re guaranteed to have the best and most original pumpkins in the neighbourhood.

Fall is also the perfect time of year to start binging spooky movies, the classics such as Halloweentown and Hocus Pocus or some more frightening hits such as the Shinning and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Movie nights are a must during the fall season as the classic halloween movies are finally coming back onto everyone’s screens. Making some halloween themed treats with your friends, with buckets of popcorn, mugs of hot chocolate and making forts are the ultimate ways to enjoy the perfect movie night. These are the nights i look forward to the most, especially as halloween approaches. Unfortunately, it becomes inappropriate and unacceptable to treat or trick as an adult, so having a movie night is a perfect alternative. You can hand out handy to trick or treaters while still enjoying a night of spooky fun with your own friends.

Sometimes picking up a new hobby is just what you need to get through the start of a new school semester, or a hard work week. Taking the time in the morning as you wake up to read a few pages of a spooky book or meditating can make the world of difference for the rest of your day. You can learn to knit so that you can finally gift someone a handmade gift for Christmas, or a schedule a few hours out of your work week sometimes to bake something delicious to send to your family or friends, or just enjoy yourself. These are some great ways to get into the fall spirit and also into a healthier mindset about your current reality.

Some great ways to enjoy the next coming months is to surround yourself with people who bring happiness into your life and take part in festive activities whenever possible. The simplest things can make a huge difference in your day. Bring 2020 into a close with better memories to replace the bad ones that some of us have made this year and fill the holiday months with love and happiness.

 

A New Reality in The Sports World

How things were

Many children grow up playing sports, and their teammates become family. Sports are a huge part of Canadian culture, and going to practice every week, having scrapped knees, packing up cut up oranges and Gatorade bottles in the trunk have all become a part of family traditions. Not only was sports a huge part of childhood, but it was also a part of everyone’s adulthood. There was nothing like going to a hockey game at an arena with a huge group of friends. People would bring their jerseys out of the back of their closets, wrap scarves around their necks and gloves on their hands, all with their favourite teams’ logo on them. They would walk into the arena and the chill radiating off the ice rink would hit their faces and turn their noses read. Getting to order beer and snacks, wear foam fingers, do the wave with the rest of the crowd and stand up from your seat to scream whenever your team scored. That was what was so great about the sports community before the pandemic hit, that even if you were never a part of the team personally, it was times like these that would make people feel like they still belonged to a team. Complete strangers could bond over their love for hockey or football at a bar and become friends and people would gather online while watching the game from their homes to interact with others watching. Who would have known that something as simple as being able to watch a hockey game with your friends was being taken for granted? 

How things changed

As Covid-19 began to threaten more and more lives, the world of sports was rightfully put on hold and players were put on the sidelines for months. Sports fans and players were understandably not happy about the situation as it changed the reality of their lives. Players were no longer able to practice for extensive hours every day, and the fans had nothing to look forward to watch for the coming weeks. It seems unlikely that teams will be able to go back to practice anytime soon. Expecting that players will stay six feet apart during practice and games is unrealistic, but teams are hopeful they can take this opportunity to focus on the fundamentals of the sport with each individual player. No more signing autographs, taking pictures with fans or pre-match handshakes. Even NBA’s LeBron James claims fans and players can expect that he will not be “high-fiving nobody for the rest of his life after this.” Fans and players should expect major changes to happen in the near future as there are no guarantees that Covid-19 will be leaving us anytime soon. It is important for families with young children in sports teams to understand the risks of allowing their kids to play again at this time and be ready to enforce guidelines and boundaries between the players and coaches. Sports that require shared equipment that will be in close contact with every player, like a football, poses higher risks than a lone sport like cross-country. As long as social distancing and general cleanliness is being met, health officials and the community agree and people understand the risk that might come with it – sports will be returning soon but with some interesting changes.

How things will be

 Smaller league teams are accepting that a comeback is not in the cards for them, but the professional teams are being bold enough to start staging and preparing for a resurrection. It won’t be easy, and players must be prepared to meet regulations and restrictions. Teams will have a create a safe and exclusive space for team members to practice and also make sure that they stay isolated from anyone outside of their team’s bubble. In order to avoid getting infected or infecting others, protocols will be established where players will be required to be routinely screened for Covid-19 and will be expected to self-isolate if necessary. There will be no direct contact on the ice or other fields with designated entrances for players and other personnel. During games, there will be minimum personnel allowed along with the players to avoid breaking the inside-outside dynamic and bubble that team creates. Dr. Isaac Bogoch of the University of Toronto has publicly said that there should be no problem with professional sport leagues to begin congregating and practicing again as long as proper guidelines and protocols are met and approved by health officials and the community.

Professional sports league is unfortunately looking at major business risks with the decision to bring back the games when the fans are not allowed into the arenas yet. Tickets, merchandise, parking and food were a major part of the revenue. There are still no secure and safe way to have fans in arenas, even with social distancing in place, without risking the players health as well. However, fans are still excited and looking forward to being able to support some of their favourite teams through their television screen. That seemed to ring true when hockey season picked back up in July and August. Even though a summer season of hockey was not something anyone was expecting, it surely did not hold the fans back from tuning in. It gave fans something to look forward to and something to cheer for. That was a great way to keep the spirits bright during such hard times in the world, and it allowed the players to continue doing what they love as well.

As long as everyone’s health and safety continue to be a priority, there’s no reason why sports should be put on hold. Conditions may not improve for the world anytime soon, but we can all use something to make the days a little brighter and to bring family and friends together again, in small groups and safely.

https://www.nhl.com/

The Sound of Vancouver – How Music Helps with Stress

Music is a universal language that impacts society in many different ways. Some believe it is the passion and way of life, some only listen to it on the car ride home and others use it to find peace and calm in a world of chaos. University students, businessmen and women, stay at home parents, etc. Anyone and everyone can find that music can only increase quality of life, and never decrease it. Despite the world’s current struggles and our inability to gather in large groups to celebrate and dance to great music, Spotify always has our back. With the endless number of playlists created by Spotify itself, and millions created by its users, you are always guaranteed to find something perfect for you and perfect for whatever mood you are in.

How music helps students

As the pandemic continues to loom over our lives, college and university students struggle with immense pressure and stress to manage their own times according to the online lectures, and the burden of teaching themselves content can be frustrating and demotivating. Some have to worry about jobs and stress about not being able to find a job during these times to be able to finance their education. This new reality for most of us can be overwhelming and sometimes feel like it’s not attainable. College and university students are also more prone and susceptible to anxiety, depression, and relationship problems which can affect their overall quality of life, their quality of work and motivation to do well in school. Music has been proven to be a healthy form of stress relief and many students have found it helps with concentration and motivation.

Many college students, including myself, find that listening to classical music is a great tool for concentration while studying and keeps you from being easily distracted. I also find that sometimes taking a five-minute break to play really loud music and dance and sing to yourself aggressively can release tension and help you feel more centered when returning to your work.

incorporate music into your day-to-day

Sometimes it’s the taking the extra time to do the little things during stressful days that really make a different in one’s life. Sometimes hospital patients will listen to music on headphones to reduce stress and anxiety before a surgery. It is also proven to help disabled and distressed children by bringing them a sense of security and coordination. Music therapy is also something that has increasingly improved the quality of life for cancer patients as it helps reduce emotional distress. It can also help during simple day-day activities like turning on music on your way to a big presentation can be a great distraction from your nerves. Listening to music while doing chores at home can make time and work go by faster.

Incorporating music into your day to day activities or taking a few minutes when you feel stressed to rock out to your favourite tunes can make the world of a different in your quality of life. There’s also nothing more satisfying than having the perfect playlist for all stressful or non-stressful times in your life. That’s when Spotify has you covered.  The Sound of Vancouver Indie is one of personal favourite playlists on Spotify as it brings together all the amazing artists from Vancouver, which vastly different sounds and messages to share. It’s a great playlist to have on in the background as I’m getting ready for my online zoom classes or cleaning my room and workstation to feel more productive and organized.

REcommendations

From artists like The Matinee, great for singing along in your room to the Zolas, great for a moody car ride to let your feelings out. This playlist introduced me to some of my favourite artists that I never would have guessed were from my own city. I have relaxed, cried, and rocked out in the shower to every song in this playlist. I highly recommend if you are looking for some Vancouver artists to support and to add to your playlist, to check out the The Sound of Vancouver Indie. There are many other playlists just like The Sound of Vancouver Indie with artists from all around Canada. Music is a great stress reliever but it’s also a great way to connect to where you are from and support your local artists. Even though, due to COVID-19 restrictions, life may be looking a little gloomier and lonelier, music can always bring friends together and bring a smile on anyones face.

https://thezolasmusic.com

2020 Terry Fox Run Still On

The annual and traditional Terry Fox run is still scheduled to happen this year despite current restrictions and regulations, but with some changes. All the events will be held virtually and remotely with the chance to do the run and raise funds your own way, with friends and family. Donna White says, “We are asking everyone to register online cause the events are all virtual this year, so go to terryfox.org so you can register to participate in your own community. It allows you to set up your own fundraising page when u register which allows you to send a link to friends and family and ask them to support your fundraising efforts. So, everyone is online this year and virtual.”

The Terry Fox Foundation encourages anyone who wants to participate in raising funds for cancer research to sign up online with friends and family. It’s time to get creative and get outside for a good cause, by either walking, running, hiking or even dancing. Anything to support this great fundraising event would be appreciated. Go to terryfox.org to sign up and create your own fundraising experience!

Violence Has No Place In Our Community

Surrey RCMP responded to a 911 call on Monday, September 14th at approximately 10pm for a reported shooting in Newton. Upon arrival, it was confirmed that a shooting had in fact occurred and found an unharmed male at the scene.

Corporal Joanie Sidhu reports, “The early indication was that the male victim had been pursued by two men at the time of the shooting and that the parties involved in the shooting are believed to be known to one another and are associated with the Lower Mainland gang conflict.”

Investigations are still under way for the conflict and no arrests have been made as of yet but the conflict has been linked to gang related activity in the Lower Mainland. However, the Surrey RCMP are diligent and determined in keeping the violence at bay and say that these kinds of conflicts are not to be tolerated in their community.

Naomi Osaka Shows Support for Black Lives Matter Movement

Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka wore masks during the US Open with names of seven victims of racial injustice to show support for the black lives matter movement. She dedicates her seven matches with seven different masks with seven different names such as Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile and Ahmaud Arbery.

@naomiosaka

She states, “The point is to make people start talking, I’ve been inside of the bubble, so I don’t really know what’s going on outside in the world. What I can tell is what’s going on on social media and the more retweets something gets, the more people talk about it.” The victim’s families also show their appreciation for her attempt in keeping the movement alive in the media. Even though she has not been the only champion competitor to show support for the movement, even Formula One driver wore a T-shirt demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, these actions are highlighted on social media and get people to keep talking about it.