Sen. Ted Cruz stopped listening to rock music after 9/11. True story.

"On 9/11, I didn’t like how rock music responded," he said on "CBS This Morning." "And country music, collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me."


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Fair enough. The senator didn't elaborate on which country acts in particular resonated with him following the attack, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that for just about 15 years, he's sworn off rock music. And while it's not hurting the industry or the artists, it's not doing Sen. Cruz any favors either.

When we only listen to one type of music or swear off a genre entirely, we miss out.

Every genre has its benefits, and we can make the most of them by mixing up our playlists every once in awhile. Not only does it allow us to encounter new favorites, but our physical and psychological health and well-being may be positively affected too.

Let's break it down shall we?

The queen of breaking it down, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

A really good reason to listen to jazz: It may relax you from the brain down.

Downtempo music (around 60 beats per minute in this case) can cause the brain to synch up with the beat and create alpha brain waves. These waves are often present when we're awake, but relaxed. Listening to smooth jazz, especially combined with nature sounds like waterfalls or thunder, can be especially soothing.

Where to start: The very helpful website Jazz and Rain, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Najee performs during the Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival. Photo by Mychal Watts/Getty Images for Jazz in the Gardens.

A really good reason to listen to metal: It may be good for your sense of self.

A study released last year determined people who identified as heavy metal fans in their youth grew up to have a strong sense of identity, a knack for community development, and were less likely to live with regrets. Rock on!

Where to start: System of a Down has an unconventional spin on traditional heavy metal, which is probably why their single, "Chop Suey," made a splash on mainstream radio in the early 2000s.

Photo by Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images.

A really good reason to listen to classical music: It may deter or prevent crime.

In 2003, city staff in London began playing classical music recordings in few dozen train stations. 18 months later, vandalism was down 37%, robberies fell around 33%, and assaults on staff were down 25%. Stateside, Minneapolis and Portland have both tested the idea of playing classical music at light rail stations to deter crime.

The experts have a few theories as to why it works. The music may be so relaxing and calming, that criminals just say, "Pass." Or the correlation may have something to do with the fact that the stops seem to be cared for or looked after. There's more of a feeling of community, and you're less likely to do something when you think someone's watching. Even if that someone is a speaker blaring Vivaldi.

Where to start: New to classical music? Give Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" a listen.

The train stations use speakers and recordings instead of live performances, but good music is good music. Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images.

A really good reason to listen to rap: It may help in the fight against depression.

Lots of rap and hip-hop songs tell the story of a person beating the odds or overcoming obstacles. According to researchers at Cambridge University, these upwardly mobile narratives may be a helpful tool for people experiencing depression or other mental health issues. These positive visual images can help people envision the mental place they'd like to be and allows them to facilitate progress toward that goal.

Where to start: The original "started from the bottom now we're here" is Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy." And, of course, the most recent iteration: Drake's "Started From the Bottom."

Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images.

A really good reason to listen to pop music: It may give you an extra boost of endurance during your workout.

During a challenging or especially tiring aerobic effort (in this case, treadmill-walking), a 2009 study revealed that listening to rock or pop hits can improve endurance and possibly enhance physical performance. The hits may actually distract you while you're working, allowing you to go the extra mile ... literally.

Where to start: You can't spell pop without ABBA. Well, you can, but why on Earth would you want to?


ABBA killing the boot game while performing one of their many hits. Photo by Olle Lindeborg/AFP/Getty Images.

A really good reason to listen to country music: It might bring you joy.

Well, maybe not you specifically (yet, anyway), but it does for plenty of people. And while there doesn't seem to have been any specific studies on the health or wellness benefits of country music, there are two great reasons to give it a try: 1. Loretta Lynn and 2. Johnny Cash. They're all the reason you need.

Where to start: Loretta Lynn's 2004 album, "Van Lear Rose," is great baby step into her iconic catalog. Same goes for Cash's "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."

Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music.

So next time you turn on some music, don't be afraid to try something new.

Whether it's a genre you swore off years ago in the wake of a tragedy or just something you've never quite understood, it may be worth taking a second look. Your summer jams playlist (and maybe your mind, body, and community) will thank you.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

Schadenfreude, celebrity fascination and previously inaccessible information now being at our fingertips is a potent combination in this trial, making amateur lawyers and psychologists of all who feel compelled to unleash their hot takes. And though the right to converse and speculate exists, is it always in our best interests to do so? Especially when it means potentially spreading misinformation, or at the cost of empathy and compassion?

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Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

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