It’s a common belief that art is like soup for the soul. And for good reason! What every kind of art has in common is that they all transport us to a different place within ourselves. Be it through a painting, dancing, a book or a piece of music. Singing is no exception. In fact, it could be one of the most beneficial daily practices to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. Here are 6 (amongst others) ways in which singing can improve your mental health:
Singing is great for establishing social connections
Singing in groups is a super popular activity. And you’ll likely to find them wherever you live. Choirs, theatre groups or group lessons can become great support systems. Group singing will bring you closer to others who also appreciate the arts and want to improve their musical skills.
People you meet in these kinds of groups can quickly become incredibly important to your mental health. Those relationships can be incredibly fulfilling as they find their roots in art and a shared intimate experience. If singing is fairly new to you, I can guarantee you’ll find lots of moral and emotional support in a singing group.
Singing can work as a confidence booster
Stage fright, our old frenemy. Beginners and professionals alike are familiar to it. And though we know perfection is rarely attainable, the saying “practice makes perfect” isn’t quite wrong. Singing is a very personal skill. It comes from an instrument within your own self. This makes it a little bit daunting for most of us to share.
Working on your skills and plucking up the courage to show them to a loved one can be extremely beneficial. Especially if you’re finding it hard to keep your confidence high. There’s something so special about working on a song for some time and sharing this very intimate process with others. You won’t believe what this boost in confidence can do for your mental health and wellbeing!
Singing is a natural antidepressant
You heard correctly! Experts consider singing to be a very powerful natural anti depressant. Many studies have shown that singing helps us release these hormones called ‘endorphins’, aka the ‘happy hormone’. This is the same kind of hormone that we release when we eat chocolate! (Not too surprising to be quite honest).
A few years ago, researchers from the University of Manchester discovered that the sacculus (an organ in the inner ear) responds to low-frequency, high-intensity sounds like singing. The sacculus is connected to a part of the brain that registers pleasure. So you get immediate an immediate sense of pleasure when you sing. Even if you’re just by yourself! When you sing with others, the joy multiplies.
Singers can expect a lowering in their stress levels
In keeping with the physiological benefits of singing, let’s talk about a not so nice little hormone called ‘cortisol’. Aka the ‘stress hormone’. Research has proven time and time again the negative toll stress can take on our wellbeing by tracking our cortisol levels. Now, what role does singing play in this aspect of mental health?
It’s a known fact that listening to music of any kind has been shown to lower cortisol levels in humans, animals and even some plants. Music is even used as a form of therapy to treat patients with a variety of health conditions, not only mental health related. However, singing is even more powerful than listening passively to music. This is because it releases muscle stored tension and connects the mind and body with the creative part of the brain. Thus lowering the cortisol levels in your blood stream.
Singing can improve mental alertness and treat mental health illnesses
Unlike what some may think, singing is an overall body activity. That is, it doesn’t happen just in our throats. Singing, especially for those with a bit of training, requires engaging with several muscles. This goes from the obvious chest and throat to resonators located all over the body, like the hips for example! This results in improved blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream, therefore allowing more oxygen to reach the brain.
The benefits singing can have on our mental wellbeing are really pretty astounding. The Alzheimer’s Society has actually developed a service called ‘Singing for the Brain’ dedicated to helping people with dementia and Alzheimer’s maintain their memory. The link between singing and mental health is clearly stronger than most people believe.
And last but not least, singing can actually help sleep!
According to an article on The Daily Mail, there was a major study conducted at Exeter University on this topic. This study led experts to conclude that vocal exercises can strengthen the weak throat and palate muscles, which are a major cause of snoring and sleep apnoea. This opens up the possibility for potential treatment that can avoid surgical procedures.
However, experts are very clear in stating that this treatment must be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes and it can’t improve sleep on its own.