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The Benefits of Singing

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Did you know that singing can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health? Whether you belong to a choir, sing songs with your Music Therapist, or simply belt out a tune in the shower or car, you are treating yourself to a whole range of wellbeing related benefits.

Singing and Our Breath

It is impossible to sing without first taking a deep breath. We engage our diaphragm, fill our lungs, and carefully control the release of air, all without thinking about anything except hitting that note in the chorus. In this way, singing your way through your favourite tune can be seen as a 3-minute deep breathing exercise. Easy right?

The breathing involved in singing has been shown to result in a range of physical benefits, including increased lung capacity, improved respiratory muscle function, increased heart rate variability and oxygen circulation. On top of these physiological effects, deep breathing can also help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress (as I am sure your therapist has told you).

Singing and Our Hormones

Similarly to exercise, singing has been shown to stimulate the production of endorphins – the feel good chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for that feeling of stress reduction, pain relief, and that natural “high” our body is built to give us. There is also evidence that singing can boost our immune function by reducing cortisol (our body’s stress hormone) and increasing production of Immunoglobin A (one of our body’s first line defence systems). Finally, singing, particularly in group contexts such as choirs, has been shown to release oxytocin. Oxytocin plays a role in anxiety and stress reduction, but more significantly it helps promote feelings of trust and bonding. This is the hormone most likely responsible for the social benefits of singing, which we will discuss below.

Singing and Our Mind

Studies have shown that singing can support improvements for individuals with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and dementia. Singing improves your mood, increases happiness and improves quality of life. On top of the physical and chemical changes discussed, singing engages your mind. Music has a direct line into our memories and connection with our identity – the right song can transport us. Concentration on the music and words can be used as a form of skilful distraction from other thoughts and worries during times of distress. Finally, learning new songs is cognitively stimulating, strengthening your memory and aiding to fend off depression.

Singing and Our Connection with Others

As you have seen, singing itself is a powerful activity. When we add other people into the equation, the benefits increase even further, with singing in a choir shown to have the biggest effect on wellbeing. Belonging to a choir expands your support system, fosters feelings of belonging and connection, and holds you accountable to get out of the house every week. Singing in harmony with others increases feelings of intimate connection, and singing in front of others can lead to better self-esteem, self-belief and self-confidence.

So the moral of the story is this: Sing! Sing loud and sing proud, and if you need a little push, come book a session with our Music Therapist.

For more information, to book a session, or to request sources, get in contact with our Registered Music Therapist, Stacey Dowling.

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