If you’re in urgent need of help, Samaritans of Singapore 1800 221 4444 (Suicide Prevention/Crisis hotline) Hello! This is the first part of a series of evidence-based mental health articles that’ll cover a broad range of topics: free and affordable mental health resources in Singapore, how we can seek psychiatric help, strategies we can use to improve your wellbeing, and stories of people with mental disorders. The next article will cover more on mental health and on seeking help, so stay tuned! This article will cover some general questions on mental health, psychiatry, and psychology. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like to see answered in future articles, click here! Will seeking psychiatric help or having a mental illness affect my job prospects? Will I have to declare my seeing a psychiatrist or having a mental disorder when applying for a job? No. The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, which the MOM refers to when dealing with employee discrimination, has stated that employers are not allowed to request job applicants to declare mental health issues or discriminate against those with mental health issues. Who will know that I’ve sought psychiatric help? Will my parents know that I sought therapy or counselling? Counsellors and psychotherapists are generally required to keep all the information that you’ve given them confidential. In some cases, such as when a professional believes that you may harm yourself or other people, your confidentiality rights will be waived. For some counselling organisations, like TOUCH Youth Intervention, therapy for minors cannot begin unless they’ve received parental consent. Whereas for some private practices, psychiatrists will see minors without their parents knowing. Even at the Institute of Mental Health, many psychiatrists see minors who request not to involve their parents. Nonetheless, clinicians generally recommend that you inform your parents before seeking help. But if you feel that telling your parents about your mental health issues can worsen your mental health issues, you can always ask whoever you’re seeing their protocols and inform them of your concerns. For school counsellors, the issue is a bit more complicated. School counsellors often have to file reports that’ll be seen by their superiors, like principals and vice-principals, and private therapists and counsellors don’t have to do this. And because these higher-ups don’t receive the same ethics training as counsellors do, they might not know what to do with this information. Do I have a mental disorder? Only a diagnostician (eg. a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist) can determine whether or not you have a mental disorder. Anyone can develop a mental disorder at any stage of life. Some disorders like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders can arise at any age and to any demographic, while other disorders like ASD and ADHD arise and may start to present symptoms at very young ages (APA, 2013). Different mental disorders have different symptoms and can occur as a result of different reasons; if you suspect you have a mental disorder, it’s always best to seek professional help. Should I seek psychiatric help? If you have thoughts of suicide, the intention to commit suicide, or thoughts of hurting other people, you should seek psychiatric help immediately. If you feel that “something is not quite right”, the American Psychiatric Association has the following list of symptoms as warning signs of mental illness: Sleep or appetite changes: Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care Mood changes: Rapid or dramatic shifts in emotions or depressed feelings Withdrawal: Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed Drop in functioning: An unusual drop in functioning, at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks Problems thinking: Problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain Increased sensitivity: Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations Apathy: Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity Feeling disconnected: A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality Illogical thinking: Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult Nervousness: Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling Unusual behavior: Odd, uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior The APA recommends that if you notice yourself experiencing several of these symptoms, seeking help may be useful to you. If you notice a person exhibiting these symptoms, it could also indicate that they may need psychiatric intervention. What exactly is a mental disorder/illness anyway? “Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours.” —The Mayo Clinic (Hyperlinks my own.) There are hundreds of types of mental disorders, each of which present with different symptoms. If you feel like you may have a mental illness, or that you display traits of mental illnesses as listed by the APA, it’ll best to see a clinician or mental health professional to receive any treatment, if necessary. One-in-seven Singaporeans have faced a mental disorder, while one-in-three youths in Singapore have self-harmed. Mental illnesses are prevalent among all demographics, and early-intervention can mean the difference between life and death. If you’re looking for online-resources available to you during the current circuit breaker period, this document provides a comprehensive list. (I am not affiliated with the author(s) of the document). Further readings American Psychiatric Association. What is Psychiatry? https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-psychiatry American Psychological Association. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy National Health Service. (2018). Antidepressants. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antidepressants/ National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Mental Health Medications. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.shtml WebMD. Guide to Psychiatry and Counselling. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/guide-to-psychiatry-and-counseling References American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
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Wait...what? To be honest, the word ‘academic’ doesn’t really go with the word ‘badass’. At least not in today’s world, where ‘academic’ is almost another word for nerdy, bespectacled, and sometimes Asian. Badass, on the other hand, is reserved for the select few whose pure existence just shouts awesome in your face. People like Kevin Garnett, Jackie Chan, and basically the entire cast of the Expendables. However, there exist a group of legendary individuals so devilishly brilliant and insanely intelligent that the combined numerical value of their IQs was probably larger than the amount of bullets fired in both episodes of the Expendables. Men who were just so amazing at subjects like philosophy, mathematics and everything they did they’re still dictating popular and academic culture today. Who were so smart their genius was badass – meaning that they had as much brains as Stallone has muscles. Amongst them are people who built the first ever schools (ok that might have been a mistake, in retrospect), the man who proved that the Earth went around the Sun, and, of course, the great and legendary writer who basically called political leaders pigs and got away with it. In honour of the men who lived in an age where thought was free, and helped keep things that way, here’s our tribute to the 5 most amazing academic badasses of all time, starting with… #1: Eric Arthur Blair a.k.a. George Orwell You might know this guy, because he was so superbly smart he managed to disguise an entire political rant as a children’s book so well they actually allowed it to be taught in schools. Now that is the highest level of censorship avoidance. Yes, I’m talking about the author of Animal Farm, which, published in 1945, was a story that basically lambasted the communist regime so strongly Stalin was probably busy applying cold water to his burnt areas after reading it. And Orwell did it without explicitly saying so, so they couldn’t quite arrest him for it without admitting they were guilty of everything he was calling them out for. Read: pure, absolute genius. Note: If you haven’t read that book, please take some time off this article to finish it before coming back. Some things are just more important than others. And if you’re reading this now, congrats on being slightly more equal than others, or, welcome back. Let’s get on with things… Before Orwell decided to systemically take apart the political applications of the USSR, he was born in India and attended school at Eton College, where he was more concerned with writing the college magazine than his useless grades. His boring and totally non-badass schooling out of the way, Orwell elected to join the Imperial Police, likely finding the name of that organisation something more worthy of his attention than something like Eton, which coincidentally is Note spelt backwards. Boring… He eventually became an Assistant District Superintendent due to his awesomeness, but was too pissed off with poverty to not do anything about it. So he set out to do battle against all the unfairness and injustice in society, because there was never any doubt he’d win. Now the problem was, in order to write a book on something, you pretty much need to know it well enough. And Orwell, clearly too amazing for something like poverty to ever touch, didn’t. So he decided to make poverty his best friend. He spent most of his days ‘tramping’, or in other words, dressing like a hobo and going around doing whatever a hobo does. He didn’t care about no middle-class expectations, he just did whatever he wanted. And that also included trying to get into prison in 1931, just to see what it was like. But they turned him down, possibly because they couldn’t find a jail cell big enough to house his gigantic…wit. And when he wasn’t busy being poor and doing other things that no one else who had a choice would choose to do, Orwell decided to fight in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. (Ok that too is something no one else would optionally do, at least not in today’s society where people are all trying to avoid national service.) So he arrived in the heart of the war saying, “I’ve come to fight against Fascism”, which, to me, is clearly more badass than totally running away and saying “I’ll be back”. If you think a writer and intellectual clearly was disadvantaged in a war involving things such as physical activity, then you’re wrong. There are accounts of Orwell chasing down another soldier with a bayonet and bombing out an enemy position. Stuff that Rambo does, basically. And how about the fact that he survived the war? Surely Orwell had no weakness. Unfortunately, at some point in time the Afterlife decided that Orwell was too awesome to not be part of it. So it began throwing tuberculosis at him in 1947 – lots of it. So much so that it actually started to, y’know, affect him. In that time, though, Orwell continued to do just whatever he wanted, finishing his masterpiece Nineteen Eighty Four, and got it published before the Afterlife finally won in 1949. For a typical person, writing while battling a life-threatening disease probably involves a lot more blood and snot than ink and paper. Orwell’s book, however, came to be one of the best literary works of ALL TIME. I’m not sure if you got that so I’ll say it again: ALL TIME, meaning in two thousand years when people are busy floating around on pure energy and playing Angry Birds on their iPhone 250s, his book is still going to be read, studied, and treated like the sacred piece of badassism it is. Note: If you haven’t read Nineteen Eighty Four, you know what to do. It was and still is a great pity to mankind that a flame of justice and a prolific mouthpiece of societal ills passed away at the age of 46. So Orwell spent his life fighting to preserve and promote justice. Now the next guy practically defined it, and his name was… #2: Plato – All Your Teachers’ Teacher. Plato lived in an era slightly distant from ours: 428-348 B.C., when the years were still counted backwards numerically. This means he didn’t have any of the technology we take for granted, including Google, Wikipedia, and public utilities. Keep that in mind as we move on to all the insane things he did. Like starting the one of the earliest known schools. Schools did exist before that, to be specific, but Plato’s Academy actually had things like walls, and, just so it could be that much more amazing, didn’t charge any fees whatsoever. How’s that for a business model eh, [insert unnamed commercialised school here]? In a sense, he’s responsible for the education we get to receive today (Yay?). That’s pretty amazing you know, since you generally don’t wake up one day and decide to change the lives of people two thousand years later. And when he wasn’t occupied with pre-emptively engineering untold misery for children aged 20 and under for millennia to come, Plato wrote a series of books and treatises on philosophy, in which he tried to tell others how to think so they could attain a little more of the genius he himself had. The Republic, as one of these works is known, sought to explore what justice was. It was likely the result of him sitting down one day and setting a question for himself to that read “Define justice [50m]”. So he produced 10 volumes to answer that question. Well, yea. He probably exceeded the word limit, but it’s safe to say he broke the marks ceiling too. I highly recommend you spend some time browsing through The Republic, but I won’t make it as compulsory, because of the potential medical and psychological implications of doing that. And yes, he used the word Republic way before it was cool. Now almost every single country in the world, including even the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (that’s North Korea btw), is ripping it off from him, probably as an attempt to suggest they are at least partly as just and badass as Plato was. Now you’re thinking that Plato was a skinny old man who sat on stone chairs and thought about the world, aren’t you? Wrong, because he was also a total jock at wrestling in his earlier years. He reputedly got his name from the word Platori, meaning broad, after his coach noticed how his muscles were almost as colossal as his brain. Rumours say he wrestled in the Isthmian games, which were like the Olympic games, only more badass because Plato was in them. I can’t stop myself from imagining that he’d be throwing the hurt on all his opponents while simultaneously deconstructing how weak the logos, ethos and pathos of their punches were. And what if I told you he was also the teacher of… #3: Aristotle – All Men by Nature Desire Knowledge. And Aristotle was the teacher of none other than Alexander the Great. I mean, if your student goes on to conquer pretty much the whole of Western Europe and goes down in history as abc THE GREAT, I guess you’re also pretty much worthy of the title abc the EVEN GREATER. I cannot even begin to describe how badass Aristotle was. So let me enlist the help of an academic paper, which suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time. (Neill, Alex; Aaron Ridley, 1995) Even his name shouts awesome. I mean, why else would all those royals and nobles decide to call themselves the aristo-crats? Clearly they were all wannabes in Aristotle’s massive fanclub. Perhaps they believed associating themselves with the alpha and the omega that was Aristotle would lend some legitimacy to their rule. His contributions are listed to be in the fields of logic, biology, physics, metaphysics, geology, *stops to catch my breath, medicine, philosophy and history. That’s basically the equivalent of doing 8 degrees and getting First Class Honours in ALL OF THEM. Did I mention that one of them is medicine? Now think of the smartest, most intelligent person you know. You don’t have to personally know him, just anyone you know of. Got that? Was it Einstein, Hawking or Bill Gates? Wait…turns out IT DOESN’T MATTER, because Aristotle was totally smarter than all of them combined, so much so that Brian Magee, a British philosopher who studied at Oxford and Yale in the 1950s (that clearly makes him reliable doesn’t it?) sums it up by saying “it is doubtful whether any human being has ever known as much as he did.” His contributions are so limitless that for me to list them all here would be like trying to count the stars of badass in the infinite universe of Aristotle’s boundless mind – you take half of forever, and before you succeed you die of the sheer brilliance you subject yourself to. He was so badass he basically “left every future scientist and philosopher in his debt.” (Wiki) This means if Aristotle were still alive, he’d be richer than 5000% of the top 1% because every single scientist and philosopher since freaking 322 B.C. would be spending their lives paying dues to him. Scientists AND philosophers. That pretty much includes every smart guy in the world! To put things in perspective though, Aristotle did stay at the Academy for about twenty years, till he was 38, to do all that academic world changing he did. But he apparently got fed up with the administration (after Plato died and the whole Academy took a -10 to the Scale of Badass) and just left. Getting fed up with the administration? That’s a +1 to Badassery anyday! And by just leaving, I mean he went all the way to Asia Minor. Now recall that he lived in a time where the best mode of transportation was probably a chariot drawn by some distant descendant of Shadowfax. I can’t imagine that going to Asia involved anything less than a journey which Jules Verne would’ve been proud to document. Once there, Aristotle went back to his favourite pastime – doing just whatever he wanted and being awesome at it – so he went to an island called Lesbos (likely finding this island’s name worthy of further study) and researched zoology and botany. Because you don’t need prior experience in any subject if you’re Aristotle. He eventually started his own school, called the Lyceum, so he could share some of the intelligence that was clearly overflowing from his brain. In his later years though, Aristotle had accumulated so much amazing that his own student, Alexander the Great, began to dislike him for speaking out against his inhumane ways, and apparently started threatening Aristotle in letters. Totally uncool way to treat your teacher, if you ask me. So Aristotle did what any typical amazing academic genius would do when threatened by a tyrant King who was also 29 years younger – outlive his adversary. Alexander somehow died before Aristotle due to mysterious reasons. Conspiracy theories link Aristotle to Alexander’s death, but clearly even if this was true Aristotle was too amazing to leave behind any compelling evidence. He eventually went out the typical badass way – of natural causes whilst the entire of Athens was persecuting him for apparently not honouring the gods or something that obviously he was too incredible to do. He also said: “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal”, which could’ve been his way of telling us “you all are obviously not equal to me, so don’t even try”. #4: Rene Descartes – I think, therefore I am. The next dude on our badass list is here because he flatly refused to believe anyone but himself and, as it turned out, was right. Cogito ergo sum, you might have heard before, or I think, therefore I am (one thousand times better than all of you combined). Besides having an infinitely awesome name that few people could pronounce right, Descartes was a French philosopher and all round amazing dude who lived circa 1650. Yup, still no Google. His claim to fame was being an absolute whiz in philosophy AND maths, something which honestly seems next to impossible nowadays, when Arts students are known for their difficulties with maths and Science students are known for their difficulties with Arts. Not only was he tremendous at both, he actually believed that metaphysics and science was the root of philosophy. Like, you actually become better at Arts when you’re better at Science. Wow! Clearly he wouldn’t have liked the dichotomy we’ve imposed between the two in recent times. Still, it’s amazing to think that the guy who famously said “except our own thoughts, nothing is absolutely within our power” also invented the Cartesian plane (you didn’t realise it was named after him did you? Neither did I). And because most academic badasses, as we have seen, typically also have side hobbies that involve physically kicking others’ butts, Descartes was a member of the Army of Nassau in 1618. Because he didn’t see much action, however, he spent his spare time studying maths. Eventually he decided that all the awesome in his mind was going nowhere if he didn’t tell others about it, so he starting writing treatises on emotion. Before he began, though, he made sure to tell the world that the stuff he wrote would be completely more monumental than everything that’s ever been written by saying that he would write on these issues “as if no one had written on these matters before”. This put him in conflict with other established academic badasses of the time, including Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Hume – all of whom were contenders for a place in this article. That probably made Descartes pause for about 3 seconds before he deciding he totally didn’t care. Did I mention that his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text in most philosophy courses? That was published in 1641. How many things have you done today that will be studied by everyone half a millennium later? In 1663 though, his badassery came into conflict with the church, and the Pope placed his works on the Index of Prohibited Books, which is generally where your books could end up if they cross an arbitrary line on the Scale of Badass. I’m not saying that the Pope was wrong, just that the act of placing his books on this index was perhaps misguided. Eventually, they realised how ingenious he was and started calling him “the Father of Modern Philosophy”. The thought that he’d fathered philosophy actually presents us the image that his wit was so amazing it did the job of a sperm… And since fathering stuff is clearly awesome in all senses of that metaphor, the next guy… #5: Galileo Galilei – The Man Who Could Look at Science and Say… Is just fascinating. Because he is known as the father of modern observational astronomy, modern physics, science, AND modern science. His extremely virile and therefore awesome brain fathered more sophisticated academic concepts than most males would father children, so don’t go comparing his brain to…any part of you at all. You might already know this, but Galileo was basically the dude who stepped up and said, “Hey guys, did anyone else notice the Earth revolves around the Sun?” But instead of standing in awe at the truth in that epiphany and celebrating him for the legend he was, the other people just started to laugh at him. Not that he gave a single beaver dam about it. He just went on to write a whole paper defending it. Sadly though, he didn’t actually manage to convince his time that he was right, because petty things like other people’s beliefs got in the way. But we know who’s right now, and he’s probably still laughing from the Afterlife about it. Now that is just a mind blasting fact. How on earth do you stand up and tell the entire world that it’s wrong? How do you tell scores and thousands of academics armed with their research and logic and degrees that you disagree with them and you’re right? Now typical people like you and I probably couldn’t, but not Galileo because he knew he was just too overflowingly brilliant to be wrong about anything. Eventually he, like fellow badass Descartes, got on the wrong side of the Pope’s books too for championing arguments which apparently made him “vehemently suspect of heresy”. Most of his works which revolved around the Earth revolving around the Sun got placed in the Index of Prohibited Books (which now seems like it should be renamed The List of Books You Should Totally Read). So they put him in house arrest and tried to force him to recant. In other words, they found him too imba and tried to nerf him. But did they succeed? Clearly not, because admitting your own mistake when everyone says you’re wrong was too mainstream for Galileo. In the peace and tranquillity of house arrest he produced one of his finest works, Mathematical Discourses Concerning Two New Sciences, where he basically invents Two New Sciences – known today as kinematics and materials science. While the other people in his life failed to get him, though, the forces of nature succeeded. By 1638 he was completely blind, presumably because he had seen so much more than a normal man could see in his lifetime, and died by 1642 due to heart issues and other petty things the Afterlife tried to nerf him with. Initially they wanted to give him the badass burial he deserved by putting him in a marble mausoleum, but because other people got in the way again, they decided that suspected heretic should be buried in a far less awesome room next to a novice’s chapel. Fortunately, they eventually realised how ridiculous this was and reinstated him to a proper place in 1737, after making a monument in his honour. Yay (slightly more modern) other people! I’d imagine two giant, ornate letters are inscribed on this monument: his totally badass initials GG, which is the only appropriate thing to say if you ever find yourself on the wrong side of this guy’s Gigantic Geni...Genius. There you have it, the Five Most Amazing Academic Badasses of All Time, in my humble opinion. I guarantee if you spent some time finding out more about what they all did and said and thought, you’d become a far greater person. And if you ever need to prove a point, pull out a quote from Aristotle, Plato, or our man GG, and you get what we call an insta-win. Trust me, I’ve done that in so many essays… if there’s one thing we can learn from these 5 amazing people, it’s that we can become infinitely more awesome than we think we are. These people were humans too, equal to us, no doubt far more equal than us as well. It’s not like they had two brains, you know, except they loved what they did, and persisted even when the world was against them. They loved it so much they studied it in their spare time, spent their entire lives on it, and made contributions are so legendary they’re still shaping society. On the other hand, modern society is preoccupied with looks, grades, bad dancing and other first world problems. We could spend our time exploring how amazing people like Orwell were, but we’d rather monitor the private lives of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Uncool. If only Descartes was still alive, because I’d totally follow him on twitter. Thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with this footnote: The Criteria of Badass, based on what these five amazing academic badasses had in common, in case you want to try to become as awesome as them (in vain): 1. Have a badass name or give one to yourself. 2. Do whatever you want and do it amazing. 3. Have a side hobby in activities which involve establishing your unquestionable physical superiority over others, just in case they start to think you’re a nerd. 4. Don’t care about other people (if you know you’re right). 5. Do things which contribute to society and help other people even though technically you don’t care about them. Disclosure: A large proportion of facts and events in this article are referenced from Wikipedia. As such, it is about as reliable historically as Wikipedia is. There has also been a slight amount of embellishment and exaggeration in this article, in case you did not notice. Therefore, do take things here with a pinch of salt and don’t rely on it for any academic papers. Rely on what those guys above said instead, and you will go far.
So here’s this theory that I have. Studying is all about concentration. Music provides the flow and rhythm to maintain that concentration. Ultimately, you still want to be studying over music, not studying with the music. Music will not overlap your studying flow. What we look for is a convergence, states where the music doesn’t engulf your thoughts; it sluices through and empowers them. We’re looking for augmentation, for enhancement. Some of you would probably have designated studying songs already. It matters not. Editor’s Choice continues the tradition of introducing the unorthodox and rogue. Why? Because you never know if something’s gonna work out better until you try. As promised, here’s list number two… #1. Jungle Boogie – Kool & the Gang – Wild and Peaceful For those who need some pep in your step, this fine, law–abiding, upstanding example of funk may be for you. You might not know what ‘funk’ actually is, but just know that with funk, you won’t flunk. Preceding the rise of rap music, funk could very well be ‘Gentlemen’s Rap,’ as unlike most rap music, you actually want to sing along to the lyrics. Silky smooth and way more chill, Jungle Boogie makes your sense of boredom and monotony pay as it creates feelings of total command and purpose. Though the lyrics are somewhat ambiguous, the raw power of the slamming cymbals, roaring trumpets and infectious beat compliments it perfectly by making virtually every situation ahead seem easier to tackle - everytime. Anytime you need a great pick up for that exam tomorrow, that teetering stack of notes, or just for the road, its time to lay on the boogie. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a main theme in Quentin Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction too. Yet another conversation opener! Nope, no need to thank us for the introduction. Some things in life, like good music, are meant to be shared. Recommended for: Everyone. Except dancers because you guys will probably end up dancing. #2. Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia – Nothing but the Beat Though David Guetta probably only sang 1% of the entire song (through a faint hum somewhere) the song’s catchiness cannot be understated. Nor can its effect on revision and work. When it comes to learning things, we often need practice. What is practice? It’s simply learning through repetition and self-criticism. Hands down, we have never heard a more lyrically repetitious song being ricocheted on the airwaves. After firing away its main cannon of a chorus again and again we start to believe that we are indeed bulletproof, we are invincible and voila – we are made of titanium. The key here is inspiration. While people are often inspired by powerful words, repetition and drilling can do the trick as well. This is therefore the most directly subliminal (does that even make sense?) example of recent music we have. Therapeutically, such a song could do wonders for most by establishing a baseline of invincibility within yourself. After all, confidence is indeed half the battle won! Recommended for: Hard workers (a bulletproof vest won’t win you the war), people who haven’t been scoring well and have been (very falsely) led to believe that they’re not that smart. #3. Zero G – Dead Space Trilogy – Jason Graves Ambience is a great way to focus the mind. So is fear and desperation. In the Dead Space trilogy, all three of these converge – and nowhere is this more pronounced than in its soundtrack. Present and played in all three games, Zero-G is perhaps the most iconic and insidious, depicting one being lost and tumbling through the void of space. An overhanging nibble of dread clouds the head of the listener through incessant, repetitious playing of the strings, accompanied by a slow thrum of percussions, mimicking the rise and fall of one’s breath - a breath that slowly extinguishes and dies out with the depleting oxygen supply. This sharply parallels most of our mugging situations, where time is trickling away. The recurring echoes create pensive, hollow tones, allusions to the abyssal existence we face should we fail… All in all it’s a really motivational soundtrack. Recommended for: Ambience Lovers, Great Visualizers, People who need serious silent, oppressive motivation. #4. Badgers and other Songs – Mr Weebl Something is wrong with the video artist Mr. Weebl, yet something is also amazingly right. It really depends on how you view the songs of his, in the sense that right things should be left right to speculation to determine how right they rightfully are. Rightfully we’re shouldn’t try to right anything by inserting right as a right word right between any right place where it rightfully goes. That would put us right back where we don’t want to be. Ok sorry. I know I’ve just confused you, but this is exactly what the artist and many of his videos leave you. In one sense it could gratify your learning experience by propping you right up, reminding you that as dumb as you think you are, you can never be as dumb the situations depicted in these videos. Furthermore, there’s nothing that can help you take a break from all that logical, academic and monotonous thinking better than a soundtrack that seizes your mind, empties it, and forces a hard reset while implanting you with images of rainbows and cartoon animals. But phreaps taht’s waht Mr. Weebl watns you to tnhik, wtih the poewrs of orvcefoindcene and hrubis all that’s lfet in you, you’re rihgt whree he watns you. Suficfe to say we are cplmoetley cnofsued and bmaobolzed by everything he has psteod onilne. And we like it. Recommended for: People with strong grips on reality, Debaters. #5. Talk – Coldplay – X&Y This is, hands down, one of the best studying songs we’ve ever used. An older track from Coldplay, Talk puts into song everything we ever wanted when doing quiet revision- a smooth and lifting track, an unforgettable but light chorus, and most importantly, lyrics that speak to the soul. No matter how many friends are present when you study, the act is itself always something personal. When the going gets tough and hardship comes, only family, those who have nothing to gain from your plight, can give you true comfort. And that’s when this song truly shines – its ability to connect to your situation and drive you through the face of adversity. Interestingly enough, another version of ‘Talk’ was scored by Coldplay that uncannily mirrors the persona in the album version, answering his questions and giving him the comfort he sorely needs. Between both tracks, a hidden dialogue can be parsed and enjoyed. Sometimes all the comfort we need from life is to be understood. Coldplay gives us that rare, gratifying option in this old but invigorating track. Recommended for: Students who need someone to relate to. The song is a good substitute. Next: We tackle the most relaxing obscure instrumental pieces, and the growing and saddening cliché-ness of Yiruma in casual piano today.
Let’s face it, some of us here love video games. Some of us may even love studying. However, in today’s society, one contributes way more to our future. Though we're not quite sure which. That doesn't mean we can’t have both things together though. Just like how listening to music while studying to relieve stress has gone mainstream, video games too can have that effect on the weary student. Here we showcase five games as antidotes to too much stress, and all of them are completely free off the net. 1. Auditorium - The Manipulation of Light and Music If there ever was a country that prized relaxed muscles and creaseless brows, Auditorium could probably serve as that country’s national sport. A mix of aesthetic and auditory appeal, the first twenty seconds of the game will make even the stiffest chair seem comfortable. Emphasis on relaxation has reached whole new levels - nothing about the game involves pressure. There’s no timer, no enemies, absolutely nothing to rush you save the joy of revealing a more complete melody every time things come together. As a painter-conductor, you manipulate music till grand melodies take shape. Cascades of light represent music, and it is not uncommon to wind up with a piece of beautiful abstract art at the end of each scenario. Some scenarios do involve quite a fair bit of brainpower to put together, but the resulting product is well worth the effort almost every time. EVALUATION For Girls: The game is a visual treat, particularly for the musically inclined (who can probably find more pleasure in playing it then most of us can.) Add that to the palette of beautiful colors and flowing atmosphere and you’ve got something you would be daft not to appreciate. For Guys: Probably not for the action junkie. Or the sports fanatic. Or the sandbox fan. It’s a game for ultimate relaxation. Go figure. Stress Reduction – 5/5 Addictiveness – 3/5 2. Continuity - Shaping landscape and mind Most people mug their socks off so that one day they might shape the world. With this gem of a game, you are well on your way to doing just that. Immersive, deep, and as complex as it is nearly monochrome, Continuity is a single creative concept made brilliant. Think Labyrinth and Gridlock meets Portal-except that the only danger you ever face in game is running out of creativity. That’s right, instead of presenting generic hostiles to hinder and detain your character, Continuity confronts your inability to progress with the realization of the inadequacy of your own mind. How’s that for a wake-up call. That’s not all; there’s a bit of Spore in it too. Continuity routinely shuffles the player between multiple perspectives, one that changes the environment, another which pilots the main character. Essentially you control an individual controlling yourself. What up. In addition to the unique concept, the soundtrack displays excellent harmony, consisting of two overlapping melodies-variations of each other. One more dynamic, played during the character sequences and another more ruminative and pensive scored during the manipulation sequences. It’s a great soundtrack for when you burn your midnight oil, no more, no less. SO DO NOT PRESS MUTE. EVALUATION For Girls: Not very colorful and cutesy, but its black and white and occasionally red color scheme could be Goth certified, if you’re into that kind of thing. Good thing to play with a bunch of friends. For Guys: For when Steam ever crashes and you miss your portal gun, this should give you guys that fix somewhat. Highly Addictive. Stress Reduction – 3.75/5 (For the Soundtrack – 5/5) Addictiveness – 5/5 3. Time Tunnel - Cracking the Beautiful Vault Forget that it is a Neopets creation. Never mind that you're studying so hard now because of the time you spent on this site last time. This game has one of the most soothing soundtracks to ever find itself onto the internet. It’s so smooth the composer was probably in a black-tie outfit with a pair of Ray-ban's on while spinning it in his hot-tub. It’s a psychedelic concoction of harmonious delight. Plus points that the game was not modeled after any others, as most games on the site mostly are. Inspiring and logical, Time Tunnel allows exploration of your innate puzzle solver in a no pressure environment. The fairly simple gameplay revolves around testing various combinations of colored slates in different orders, where each correct slate shoots into a lock and brings the player closer to the ultimate treasure. Incidentally the game can be played with one hand - good news to you multi-taskers. Finally, a game to pump your brain while you squeeze it dry. That’s dynamic equilibrium right there. EVALUATION For Girls: Other than the picture of the clearly male Neopet on the loading screen of the game, you shouldn’t have any beef with it whatsoever. For Guys: You should enjoy this particularly due to the manner in which the slates are placed into the locks. No, nothing particularly suggestive here. Stress reducing level – 4/5 Addictiveness Level – 3/5 4. Orisinal: Morning Sunshine - Bevy of Innocent Delights This is actually a bunch of games more than a single game. The Orisinal portal bombards you with an attack on your manhood with a reversion ray to the part of the brain that makes you wish you never left that soothing pram. With beautiful graphics for flash and lethally addictive soundtracks, this is one site that probably will… 1) Have you screaming for bottled milk 2) Make you wonder what is the point of finals altogether 3) Bring back your innocence (unless you encounter something even trippier regularly) 4) Refresh your mind. Good and really bad. You could question the point of studying altogether and launch into an expansion of thought that helps you study… or you could just go on exploring the many cute games on the site until finals end. And as many of those games (61 games last count) just have high scores and no endings, you’ll play it forevers. Yes, forevers. Just be careful your finals grade doesn’t get sucked in too. EVALUATION For Girls: You probably know this site exists already. Yes. If you didn’t, you probably do. For Guys: Lots of girls know about this site. Face it, if you know this site here exists, a girl introduced it to you. If you don’t, playing a few games here and there for leisure could be a plus for social, even out of finals. After all, nothing quite gets interaction going than discussing a bunny light as air hopping on snowflakes with Pachebel’s Canon in D playing in the back (Winterbells). That’s animals, the weather, and classical music right there. Stress Reducing Level – 4.5/5 Addictiveness Level (For girls) – 5/5 (For guys) – 2/5 5. Robot Unicorn Attack - Wiping the mind with clouds and rainbows This game is the final straw. The final frontier. Do not play it unless you really have to. It’s what you need when you find yourself so neck deep in formulas and calculations, when you’re mired in notes and readings, and when you feel that nothing can save your mind from the stress of exams. That is when you break out this game. It will destroy that stress utterly. It will kill that stress to death. Theories have it that the game is actually a top secret concoction of psycho-chemical analysis, blending every single color and shape known to man with Hasbro's My Little Pony. Think Moses parting the Red Sea - with rainbows. Scholars claim the journey of the unicorn symbolically represents the journey that we all face, perilous and misguided, but a necessary one, shown by the cleansing rainbows left behind in its wake, and the promise of ultimate rewards. And if that wasn't enough, imagine playing the game through one of the greatest earbugs ever to hit the video game scene, Always, by Erasure. If the music video here wasn't confusing enough, imagine it blared continuously as your robot pony goes coast to coast on stars and purple heaven outcroppings through a rainbow miasma. Several noted researchers go so far as to explain the game’s universal appeal through parallels to the Nyancat, feline phenomena also known for its unique blend of locomotion and sanity-testing soundtrack. In short, play over ten minutes at a stretch and get into serious risk of having that song, and your future finals hopes, stuck in your head. EVALUATION For Girls: Huge gleaming ponies with horns, soaring through glittering stars while sowing unlimited rainbows over a vast dreamscape. What more can I say. For Guys: Try to imagine the pony as a mechanical death machine and those stars you’re busting as target boards. It helps take your mind off the incidental cuteness of the game, and after a while, as intended, your finals. Stress Reducing Level – 6/5 Addictiveness Level – 5/5 Note: We do not take any responsibility for any kind of game addiction, halithosis and mental injury that is caused directly or indirectly by the playing of any games as explored in this post. Gamer discretion is advised.
Celebrating the ideal of making minds run and studying fun for all our viewers here at Owlcove, here’s an article from the admins introducing our take on the most effective songs to study to, since…forever! Before we start though, note that we deliberately chose a mix of songs that are lesser known and can be applied for uses other than the standard instrumental relaxers. This doesn’t mean we are indie. We just don’t want to tell you stuff you already know. Alright, here we go… 1. Day Before We Went To War – Dido – Girl Who Got Away. Ever felt the warmness of sweet bliss overtake you as you munched through that puffy lava cake? How about the feeling of standing on the edge of the beach after a run, the sunset glazing your eyes and playing across your face? Give or take, that’s what most people feel when they first hear Dido. Not a newcomer to the music scene, this once mainstream artist’s new entries now sound anything but that. Trading commercial volume and mass appeal for a more placid, atmospheric take, Dido has produced a masterpiece in this soft ballad. Even if you’ve never known her before this, give it a listen. With an angelic voice and a beautiful melody, this is one tune that soothes strained ears and mends the mind. The slight echo and reverberation throughout the piece simulates expanse and landscape, which to us, is great for inspirational writing. Recommended for: Arts Students, Literature Students We listened to this while studying for: IELTS, LNAT 2. Covered in Rain – John Mayer – Any Given Thursday (Live in Birmingham) Any girlfriend who says she doesn’t know who John Mayer is is a keeper. Hang on to her tight guys, and don’t let her go. She evidently cared about you enough to not want to emasculate you by comparing yourself to him. Known for his high-profile relationships and exquisitely tempered guitar playing, John presents a beauty of a ballad in this eleven-minute live stage performance, which scores major points for relaxation. Composed post 9-11 and performed in 2006, the song is literally off the charts and includes one of the most satisfying basses we have ever heard. For those who draw particular inspiration from people who are effortlessly beyond you, this is a good place to start. The mind instinctively looks towards light. Focus on this achievement and let it spur you on to better yourself. Through the only muggery crammingly way you know. P.S. Just listen to the song alright? Don’t watch a video of him because some things are just nicer to look at than study notes. Recommended for: Arts and Science Students, Female Students, Nicki Minaj We listened to this while studying for: A-Levels, LNAT, SATS & SAT 2’s 3. Steel Run – Atlas Plug – 2 Days or Die Here we explore the other spectrum of stimulating music, music that gets your blood flowing to your brain. For those who would rather skydive while mugging than sit down to the Carpenters or Enya, Tom Salta a.k.a Atlas Plug brings to you a whole album of piston palace. In the relative shadows of the album hit single ‘Truth Be Known,’ this song nonetheless packs a wallop. With a grinding beat like its namesake, it emphasizes relentless mechanical progress, which may be helpful in bringing out equally relentless mugchanical progress. For something to knock the box on its side, Steel Run takes the listener out of that Zen mode, and injects some adrenaline into that stagnant system. Mixed delicately, the muted piano solos accompany the sigh of African echoes in tandem, adding a sense of fragility and touch. The song offers a brief but forgettable respite for the deafening silence in the library, and doubles up as a great song for the guys to pump iron too. Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys watching the Fast and the Furious Series, Mostly guys We listened to this while studying for: A-levels 4. Deviljho Theme– Monster Hunter 3 Soundtrack Book This song, though part of a soundtrack, could very well be listened to without any introduction or explanation. You don’t even need to play the game. In fact, we’d rather you not listen to the whole song, but just the opening. The initial feeling you get when hearing its first ten seconds or so is one of the most intense conjurations of musical expression ever. Don’t believe us? Just picture yourself in the middle of the exam hall. It’s the A-level H2 Economics Paper 2, and you’re at your desk. There are the unfamiliar invigilators from a mysterious other JC handing out the question sheets face down. You didn’t have time to cover every topic, like everyone else, so you spotted a few likely topics to emerge. You’re good to go. Okay, I can do this, you think. Supply and demand? Back of my hand. Market failure? Checked. Conflicts in macroeconomic goals…easy. You just know the questions on the other side. You feel you’ve known them your whole life. Nothing can go wrong. You smile as the invigilator gives the signal to turn over the paper. You turn over the paper. Now play this song. Recommended for: Anyone who understands the phrase ‘cautionary tale,’ people with great imagination, basically everyone that loves spotting topics. We listened to this while studying for: A-Level History Papers 1 & 2, Literature Papers 1 & 5 5. Boyfriend – Justin Bieber - Boyfriend Didn't expect that, did ya? Sorry for the shock and awe, but we here at Owlcove feel that anything and everything, given the circumstances and properly managed, could be adapted and put to good use. No exceptions here, as even something as interesting and queer such as the song above could be put through its paces for studying. Remember when you were young, and, missing self-motivation to finish that little piece of homework, began to play games with yourself? Like “I’ll hold my breath until I finish this question!” Okay, maybe you weren’t nearly as self-torturous as that, but between you and me, that kinda worked… Well, same concept, different causes of suffocation. For best effect, put this song on replay on your iPod, and just...listen to it over and over again, until you finish your revision. Don’t allow yourself to turn it off until you’re through. Voila. Your revision is done faster than you can say Lil Jon. Justin Bieber’s Boyfriend (pun intended) stands out among his various tracks as it achieves that rare equilibrium of bad taste and non-addictiveness. Just as it is a headache to listen to, at least it’s one that doesn’t stay in your head after you study (as opposed to that - other - song). Go for a shot of Steel Run after to reward yourself. No one deserves too much torture. Recommended for: Non Bieber Fans (Everybody). People who study alone. You don’t want to do this within the earshot of anyone else. People who seriously want to get straight As and are willing to take the greatest risks known to Man. We (actually just one of us, to make things clear) listened to this while studying for: Traffic Police Basic Theory Test, Higher Mother Tongue Stay tuned for the next installment of editor’s choice, where we explore the therapeutic effects of David Guetta and delve into the potential applications of Mrweebl’s mesmerizing melodies.