“It’s a fact: singing is healthy, regardless of how we think it sounds. Singing familiar songs we know and love connects us to our bodies and emotions in ways that words alone can never do.”
The Art of Mindful Singing by Jeremy Dion (page 73)
My parents enrolled me in a choir when I was just five years old. I’m so grateful they did. Not only did I make new friends, I developed a lifelong passion for singing and the performing arts. Singing has been a constant with me throughout my life and I believe it always will be.
There’s plenty of research to back up the positive effects of music and singing on your mental health. “Singing affects our moods, our bodies, our brains, everything,” explains singer, songwriter, play and music therapist Jeremy Dion in his book, The Art of Mindful Singing. Dion says singing releases endorphins, oxytocin (the bonding hormone), increases oxygen to the brain, expands the lungs and engages vital muscle groups.
Neuroscientist, session musician, sound engineer and record producer Daniel Levitin details in his book, This is Your Brain on Music, how “musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain that we know about”.
According to an article in The Conversation, research has shown that people feel more positive after singing and that choirs are a great place for bonding quickly.
The University of Florida also states that music improves language skills, creativity and happiness, decreases anxiety, speeds healing, increases optimism and decreases pain.
Need a positivity boost? Here are three ways to get more music in your life:
- Turn off the TV and put on the radio. Listening to music decreases the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
- Listen to classical music. A study showed that listening to classical music 45 minutes before bed improved sleep. While another study by Hans Joachim Trappe showed that some music, such as meditative and classical music, can benefit patients with depressive symptoms
- Join a community choir or get involved in the chorus of your local musical theatre group.
Singing has been a big part of my life with bipolar disorder and PTSD. When I sing, I’m conscious of my breath and it’s very calming, almost like riding a wave through each phrase. It’s only in the past few months, as I’ve joined the local theatre group for a production of The Sound of Music, that I’ve realised what effect music can have. Dion says that the “majority of research points to group singing as providing the most benefits of all.” For me the benefits include meeting new people, focusing on learning new songs, the joy of singing harmonies in a large group and taking a risk in singing solos.