Posted By Chuck Gillespie,
Friday, May 3, 2019
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This article was originally posted in Aging Today
When thinking about the terms wellness or well-being, multiple definitions come to mind. Wellness, according to the National Wellness Institute (NWI), is an active process of becoming aware of and learning to make choices that lead toward a longer and more successful existence—in other words, toward a life worth living.
So, how to achieve wellness? According to Gallup well-being research, physical activity provides adults ages 65 and older with a 32 percent higher positive emotional outlook than for those who are not active. But to have a life worth living, it is critical to look beyond physical wellness; Gallup research also identifies how there can be too much emphasis placed upon the physical dimension of health and well-being.
For example, Steven Hawking had been told in his 20s that he would never see age 30. In 2018, he died at age 76. In 2016, he noted that “however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” Hawking exemplifies someone whose physical health did not deter him from living. While doing his best to maintain his physical health, he also cultivated intellectual, social, occupational, spiritual and emotional purpose—a life worth living.
The Six Dimensions of Wellness
The basis for such a life begins with focusing on the six dimensions of wellness, which were developed by past and present leaders of the NWI. These dimensions—physical, occupational, social, intellectual, spiritual and emotional—strongly influence human well-being.
Physical wellness is the dimension often used to define wellness. Eating right and being active is the rallying cry. Young and old must get a yearly checkup by a primary care physician, a dentist, and an optometrist. People with chronic conditions must manage them, and everyone should avoid tobacco. But there is so much more to wellness.
Anyone who has experienced the stress of being in an unsatisfying job, or who has been employed by a company with a psychically poisonous work environment knows those situations consume significant amounts of energy; poor physical working conditions also cause harm. Thus, occupational wellness is critical to well-being. For some, occupational wellness involves whatever work makes them happy. For others, a paid job provides their desired financial and material life, but a working hobby such as gardening, wood-working or fixing cars also can provide satisfaction and enrichment.
The social dimension involves connection to friends and family. Lack of a good social network, loneliness, feeling isolated and not fitting in at home, at work or in a community are major barriers to achieving wellness.
The intellectual wellness dimension means expanding knowledge and skills while allowing time to discover the potential for sharing one’s gifts with others. Humans must be constant learners, not necessarily in the sense of “book smarts,” but in learning to find their own unique ways to learn and to teach.
The spiritual and emotional dimensions both are critical to happiness and health. The spiritual dimension recognizes the human desire to search for meaning and purpose in life—exploring the ubiquitous question, “Why are we here?”
The emotional dimension aligns with the other five dimensions by recognizing how each person must try to cultivate a positive outlook—to create enthusiasm about one’s self and one’s life.
Each dimension holds equal value in a life worth living. But the concepts for each dimension need to be understood in the right perspective. For example, as Hawking overcame his physical obstacles, it is imperative for individuals to understand their own obstacles to overcome.
Social Determinants and Wellness
According to the recent survey by Waystar, “Consumer Perspectives on How Social Determinants Impact Clinical Experience”, 68 percent of respondents had social risk-factor obstacles. Healthcare access, housing insecurity, transportation access, food insecurity, safety, and health literacy lead the list. The survey shows that much more than medical care affects health and wellness. “The most commonly reported social determinants of health issues are financial insecurity and social isolation,” the report’s authors write.
Research by the National Institutes for Health shows that with aging, individuals often decline in physical and cognitive function, causing a narrowing of social networks. Further, social isolation is prevalent among individuals who are far from family and friends or who are not near a cultural center to which they feel connected.
Not “fitting in” is an issue many people face. Civil rights legislation in the United States created legal precedent regarding discrimination (i.e., around race, religion, gender, disability, etc.) for protected classes, but prior to 1990, people with disabilities were not covered. Thanks to the American’s with Disabilities Act, wheelchair users now have access to many venues to which they were previously shut off; this legislation opened up new avenues of social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.
Other factors such as geography (where one lives), healthcare access and personal priorities also play a part in individual well-being. For instance, workplace and community wellness initiatives may promote the need to prioritize 60 minutes of exercise per day, but for people living in unsafe neighborhoods who are worried about putting dinner on the table, exercise moves down on the priority list.
A Multicultural Perspective
This type of situation is why the NWI developed the Multicultural Wellness Wheel. The wheel encourages individuals to look beyond their spheres of influence to understand how others might view life. How and where a person grew up, what they do for work, their family environment and “life moments” all influence individual perspective.
The Multicultural Wellness Wheel helps people to understand, without negative judgments, the worldviews of culturally different peoples, and to have respect and appreciation for human differences that enable more positive and effective encounters. NWI Board President and CEO of Alturnative Linda Howard says, “One of the biggest issues we face across the globe is that we do not have a strong multicultural competency model from which to learn. Practitioners and organizations use models that are too focused on one particular issue like race or gender, and as such, fail to reach large segments of the population due to a lack of cultural competency. We see the opportunity to learn from each other through a wider lens that also incorporate such things like religion, disability, language, age, geography and other cultural factors that are a leading causes of social isolation.”
If people can become aware of their beliefs and assumptions about human behaviors, values, biases, stereotypes and personal limitations, they can open up and learn who different cohorts are as “cultural beings.” They can better see how cultural socialization shapes worldviews and enhances their ability to connect to and work with culturally diverse populations.
Wellness is a simple, though multi-pronged, concept, which emphasizes a mission of connection. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider overall well-being from a more holistic perspective—in terms of our social connections, physical health, intellectual capacity, occupations, and emotional and spiritual coping skills.
Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.
Accesibility & transportation
aging in community
creativity & lifelong learning
health & wellness
healthcare & aging
Posted By Jana Stará and Eva Dittingerová,
Friday, April 12, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019
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How can we encourage wellness lifestyles even in countries where the wellness profession is not yet established? How to build upon the current resources in our communities and create a space where both the facilitators and participants or clients can learn and feel connected?
In this article we share our approach and experiences from a year-long series of Wellness Councils.
There can be moments when you realize that you are longing for a change. And moments when your life just doesn't seem right and your daily routine doesn't serve your needs. You may feel you need to slow down, move more, take a deep breath, eat healthier food, or just need a hug. Yet it seems difficult to do something about it. In moments like that, it's good to have someone by your side to share your wishes, expectations and worries. To encourage each other and to make commitments that will keep you motivated until you meet again.
Do they sound like reasons to engage a wellness coach? Definitely, but since wellness coaching as a profession is not yet established in the Czech Republic, we struck on the idea of Wellness Councils. With the intention to build upon the current resources in local community, we commenced by calling together a circle of people who cared about their own wellbeing and were open to sharing with peers once a month..
What is a Wellness Council?
Wellness Council is based on our belief that we can live every day genuinely, with contentment and honesty. According to the wellness philosophy, there is often but little change needed to make our lives more vivid, exciting, happier and healthy. Our council is an open space for exploring what good and healthy life means for each of us specifically, space for sharing, inspiring and motivation.
Putting wellness and councils together in a framework of monthly meetings dedicated to each of the 12 wellness dimensions, based on the work of Jack Travis, gives a year-long opportunity to kindly observe one’s own state of wellness, to feel inspired by thoughts and experiences of others and receive a little push and support to change for better.
Each event is open to public and everybody is invited to join the group, which always creates a vibrant palette of age groups, backgrounds, life experiences and so on. This reach out to more distant social networks created space for sharing with different, yet likeminded people, who felt that they needed to take first steps towards change or those who were already on their wellness journey. This can be very supporting especially in moments when one lacks support in the closest circles. We can hardly count on help from a demanding boss or family members who live an unhealthy lifestyle.
What is happening in a Wellness Council?
Every session consists of an activity allowing us to explore more about the given topic - both practically (interview, exercise, drama improvisation, brainstorming, drawing, relaxation etc) and theoretically (sharing bits of up-to-date knowledge). We are offering simple ways how everyone of us can be more attentive, relaxed, active etc.
With these small steps the program encourages us to review our current needs and to bring awareness to them during our daily life. There is always an optional “homework” component - simple guidance, instruction for every day of the forthcoming month. For example: Close your eyes for a moment while eating. Take a deep breath when you notice the sky. Find a moment when you are experiencing something beautiful and acknowledge it.
And in every Wellness Council, there is time for stories, too. Sharing stories in a safe way that allows us to revisit our priorities, map our personal history and experience, inspire and call for action.
The power of sharing stories in a Council
Having experience with the Way of Council, we felt that its intentions (speaking from the heart, non-judgmental listening from the heart, being spontaneous, speaking the essence, confidentiality and sharing what servers me, the circle and higher good) encourage honest and compassionate expression and can be more than helpful in creating the safe environment for personal stories on wellbeing.
Note: Wellness Council (in the Czech Republic) can (sometimes) look like this. (author Jana Stará)
In council we use a “talking piece” to focus the attention on the person who is sharing their story and there is no one else speaking at the time. The others do not ask questions; do not give advice or comment in any way. During council we share our personal experiences, our own stories through which we can learn from one another and get the sense of belonging to one humankind, the members of which lives are the “same but different.”
The Wellness lessons from stories shared
Every day begins the same way for all. No matter who we are. We all do wake up.
Not so for the stories we tell and hear – these are very different. You can be say a wellness coach and know general principles of how our bodies and days function. Yet it's always fascinating to remain still and listen to the stories of the days of others. No matter what the rules and advice, when it comes to the joys and struggles of everyday life our human nature and wisdom are being awakened.
Thanks to the stories and council, wellness professionals can constantly learn (just as storytellers, listeners or facilitators would do). Learn a lot about others and maybe even more about ourselves. Learn what it really takes to live well. We strongly believe that empathy, one of the principles of council, is essential not only for sharing safely, but especially for our feeling of being well and grounded in our daily lives.
Eva Dittingerová is an educator, drama teacher, project manager and facilitator who is interested in education through art and nature. “Drama led me to psychosomatically oriented approach to dramatic culture and creation and my interest in stories and it's potential brought me to The Way of Council.”
Jana Stará, PhD, is a wellness promoter who dedicated her research and lecturing practice to promoting the concept of wellness in her country. She seeks ways to develop and implement wellness programs with respect to different cultural environment and traditions in Europe. She teaches at the university, empowers individuals, consults companies and believes that better times for European wellness are yet to come.
czech wellness council
Posted By NWI,
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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It’s back to school time! Children nation-wide are getting on big yellow buses to go to buildings where inside lies a promise to help them develop intellectually to the extent of their capacity.
…except, for some of us, we don’t realize that capacity until after our time in those buildings is over. That leaves us with a question: How (and where) can we learn, after we’re done with school?
For September’s Wellness in 10, here are 10 ways adults can find new education and inspiration, even if our school years are long behind:
1. Get inspired
It’s probably not a surprise that we’re more likely to learn things that we find fascinating, and it’s probably also not a surprise that we don’t necessarily find the things in our day-to-day lives too fascinating. So to learn, find something that sparks your interest. Whether it’s archaeology, engineering, or professional wrestling, find something outside of your normal routine that makes you think “Wow, that’s cool!”
2. Set a Goal
We all spend time thinking “I’ll do that one day…” but few of us ever reach that magical day when everything is supposedly going to happen. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, set small measurable goals to learning your new knowledge or skill. Perhaps “finishing this textbook by the end of the month,” or “completing this beginner’s project in two weeks” are small goals that will move you forward. Combining a number of these small goals toward your overall achievement is how you’ll accomplish your learning objectives.
3. Rediscover Creativity
Many adults think that creativity is the domain of the young, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Creativity can spur learning, and vice versa. Try picking up a pencil or paintbrush and sketching out a story or a drawing. Starting will be the hardest part. If you allow yourself to drop some of the creative restraints that many find in adulthood, you’re bound to expand and improve your creative skills and abilities.
4. Do it different
We get stuck in ruts. This is the nature of most people. To learn something new, though, we have to do something different. Rather than doing things the same old way, try doing a routine task in a new way. Drive a different way home, baking a recipe with different seasonings, or telling your kids a story from the perspective of a different character. Working through these tasks in a different way will stretch your mind in ways it’s not used to being used.
5. Get a fresh perspective
Just like we can’t learn something new by doing things the same way we always have, we can’t learn something new by approaching things from our own standpoint. Challenge yourself to learn empathy by understanding others’ perspective. For example, try watching the news from the perspective of someone from the opposite side of the country, of the opposite gender, or from the other end of the political spectrum. This can be really hard to do, but you’ll experience real growth if you’re capable of achieving it.
6. Get some exercise
Recent studies have shown substantive connections between physical and intellectual wellness. If you’re feeling like you’re in a learning lull, try stepping up your exercise level to stimulate the blood flow to your brain.
7. Take up an instrument
There are direct correlations between playing music and learning. Not only can playing music decrease your stress and give you a new skill, but playing an instrument has been shown to increase your intelligence in other areas. For as little as a few dollars you can pick up a harmonica and begin to develop the latent musical abilities you didn’t know you had.
8. Sleep on it
Lack of sleep can have lasting and permanent effects on the brain, in as little as 24 hours without rest. To make sure that you’re taking full advantage of your brain power, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night for adults.
9. Make it a single
Though some studies say that intelligent people tend to drink more, there are serious long-term effects of alcohol abuse on intelligence, so if you want to be a life-long learner, be sure to keep your drinking in moderation.
A recent study has found that as little as 20 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation over a 4-day period has a positive impact on the cognitive abilities of test subjects. Coupled with the added benefit of reduced stress, there doesn’t seem to be any downside to taking a little quiet time to yourself to refocus your mental energies.
Thanks for checking out this month’s Wellness in 10. We hope you have an intellectually stimulating September!
Posted By NWI,
Monday, March 7, 2016
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A new study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in February drew a direct relationship between the development of dementia and the amount of education a person has received.
The study, studying more than 5000 people ages 65 and older, found that rates of dementia were lower by as much as 44% among people who had at least a high school education. Dementia cases were even lower among those who had avoided cardiovascular disease.
Though these results are not completely definitive, they are encouraging, and may have significant effect in terms of how the significance of education in health policy will be handled in the future.
To read the study, click here.
Posted By NWI,
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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This month’s inspiration is brought
to us by Malala Yousafzai. She is the school girl/woman who survived being shot in the head by
the Taliban for wanting an education, and survived. She has just written a book,
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for
Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and faces additional threats for
sharing her story.
She reminds us to never stop fighting for
what we believe in, that adversity is not a reason to stop trying, and that
anything is possible. She
is a beacon of emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, occupational, and
physical wellness. While her actions are heroic on a grand scale, her message
is simple: be brave, learn, love, care, help, forgive, and change.
We realize the importance of our voices only when we are
silenced. – From her book, I Am Malala:
The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most
powerful weapons. – From her keynote speech to the United Nations, July 12,
I raise up my voice—not so I can shout but so that those without
a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.
I don't want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for sons
and daughters of the Taliban.
I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they
come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that
education is our basic right.
One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.
I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the
Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, "If he comes,
what would you do Malala?” then I would reply to myself, "Malala, just take a
shoe and hit him.” But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then
there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat
others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through
peace and through dialogue and through education.” Then I said I will tell him
how important education is and that "I even want education for your children as
well.” And I will tell him,” That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you
Posted By National Wellness Institute,
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
In recognition of February as Wise Health Consumer Month, this month's Fun Facts are dedicated to knowing more about your health. For more information on this event, visit: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 90 million Americans have only basic or below-basic health literacy skills. Limited literacy affects people from all income, age, ethnic, and education groups. Studies show it plays a major role in whether an individual has a good result from his or her treatment for a disease or an illness.
Health literacy reflects how well a person can find and understand information about the healthcare services they need. It plays a big role in how well a person can take information and use it to make good decisions about their care, such as following directions for treatment.
Here are 14 easy ways to be more involved in your health care.
- Schedule regular (at least annual) doctor visits.
- Bring any medications you take, including dietary supplements to your appointment.
- Write down questions you have for the visit ahead of time.
- Know your current medical conditions, past surgeries, and illnesses.
- Be ready to explain any symptoms you have experienced to your doctor or healthcare professional.
- Make sure to ask questions when you don't understand what your doctor is explaining.
- If your doctor recommends a treatment, remember to always ask about other options.
- If you need a test, ask: 1) how the test is done, 2) how it will feel, 3)what you need to do to get ready for it, and 4) how you will get the results.
- If you need a prescription, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, are nursing, have reactions to medicines, or take vitamins or herbal supplements.
- Find out what to do next and ask for resources.
- If you think you may have trouble following your doctor's treatment plan, tell your doctor!
- Follow your doctor's treatment plan as prescribed.
- Know that it's OK to call your doctor with follow-up questions.
- Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if you have problems following the instructions.
Here are 11 easy ways to be more involved in your healthcare outside of doctor visits.
- Know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol level, etc.
- If you are in danger of suffering from a chronic condition or currently suffer from a chronic condition, begin to take steps to mitigate your risks.
- Gain at least a basic understanding of the nutrients your body needs: http://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/healthy-eating/nutrients-you-need-10000001580735/index.html.
- Have a basic understanding of, and read food labels: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nutrition-facts/NU00293.
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day
- Understand the basic symptoms of depression and treatment options: http://www.webmd.com/depression/default.htm.
- Practice safe sex.
- Don't sunbathe or use tanning salons.
- Don't smoke or use tobacco.
- If you are overweight, seek out resources to help you lose weight.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
While these lists are not absolute, they will go a long way to helping you achieve a healthier and happier you!
Posted By National Wellness Institute,
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Human Capital, marriages between Hollywood's stars and starlets sheds light on why individuals tend to marry those with similar education levels.
Social scientists have known for years that people tend to marry according to their education levels, but the reason was largely unknown. Movie star marriages can help sort all this out, according to Gustaf Bruze, an economist at the Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences in Denmark.
Bruze assembled a large data set of top movie stars' marriages, earnings, and education levels. He found that level of formal education has no correlation with a movie star's success, either in terms of box office earnings or the likelihood of winning an Oscar. Yet despite the disconnect between education and success, movie stars who marry each other still tend to have similar educational backgrounds, Bruze's analysis shows. His data also show that actors are unlikely to meet their spouses in school, or be cast together in movies due to their education level.
The findings suggest that sorting on education isn't all about the money or professional affiliations. But rather, that men and women prefer nonfinancial partner traits correlated with education. So it is not about the money, but rather about values, interests, and mental abilities.
Posted By National Wellness Institute,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012
Inspired by the traditional month of returning to school!
Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities—that's training or instruction—but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed.
I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.
—Theodore Isaac Rubin
God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.
The ideal condition would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct; but since we are all likely to go astray, the reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.
Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can—there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.
The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you're learning, you're not old.
—Rosalyn S. Yalow
That's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we`ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.
Teaching is useless unless you can learn from your students.
Learning is always rebellion... Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before.
—Margaret Lee Runbeck
The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.
—Marcus Tullius Cicero
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.
—Leo F. Buscaglia
If you're not making mistakes, you're not taking risks, and that means you're not going anywhere. The key is to make mistakes faster than the competition, so you have more changes to learn and win.
—John W. Holt, Jr.
If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.
Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.
—Henry L. Doherty
Learn to limit yourself; to content yourself with some definite work; dare to be what you are and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not; and to believe in your own individuality.
—Henri Frederic Amiel
Learning is the discovery that something is possible.
It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.
—Francis Bacon, Sr.
Posted By National Wellness Institute,
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012
A team of researchers from the UK and Finland has discovered why people who stay in education longer have a lower risk of developing dementia—a question that has puzzled scientists for the past decade.
Examining the brains of 872 people who had been part of three large ageing studies, and who before their deaths had completed questionnaires about their education, the researchers found that more education makes people better able to cope with changes in the brain associated with dementia. The results, people with different levels of education have similar brain pathology but that those with more education are better able to compensate for the effects of dementia.
Over the past decade, studies on dementia have consistently showed that the more time you spend in education, the lower your risk of dementia. For each additional year of education there is an 11 percent decrease in risk of developing dementia, this study reports.
The researchers used data from the EClipSE collaboration, which combines the three European population-based longitudinal studies of ageing (the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study, the Cambridge City Over-75s Cohort Study and Vantaa 85+, a Finnish study). Compared with previous research, this study was able to answer the question because of its large size and statistical power.
The results have important implications for public health at a time when populations in many countries are ageing.
The results are published in the journal Brain. The study was funded by the BUPA Foundation, the European Union and the Medical Research Council.
University of Cambridge (2010, July 26). Why more education lowers dementia risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/07/100725203914.htm
Posted By National Wellness Institute,
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012
For decades research has shown that listening to music alleviates anxiety and depression, enhances mood, and can increase cognitive functioning, such as spatial awareness. However, until now, research has not addressed how we listen to music. For instance, what is we listen to music while trying to perform another task? The researchers required participants to perform serial recall (recall a list of 8 consonants in presentation order) in the presence of five sound environments: quiet, liked music (e.g., Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Stranglers, and Arcade Fire), disliked music (the track "Thrashers" by Death Angel), changing-state (a sequence of random digits such as "4, 7, 1, 6") and steady-state ("3, 3, 3"). Recall ability was approximately the same, and poorest, for the music and changing-state conditions. The most accurate recall occurred when participants performed the task in the quieter, steady-state environments. Thus listening to music, regardless of whether people liked or disliked it, impaired their concurrent performance.
Although music can have a very positive effect on our general mental health, music can, in the circumstances described, also have negative effects on cognitive performance.
Wiley - Blackwell (2010, July 28). Background music can impair performance, cites new study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/07/100727112521.htm