So what health benefits are associated with Singing?
Singing is an exhilarating activity; a creative experience which improves mood by producing a hormonal high in the majority of participants. It encourages wellbeing by providing opportunity for self-expression, a great way to release emotional and physical tensions.
Concentrations of Oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’, known for its multiple positive psychological effects influencing social behaviour and emotion) increase significantly when we sing. Oxytocin has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety, increase trust, improve relaxation, and even increase romantic attachment(!)
Other perceived benefits of singing include reduction of negative feelings, such as despair, depression and loneliness; and improvement to physical health for those with longstanding difficulties. In particular, the deep controlled breathing associated with singing has been described to counteract stress and give a sense of fitness. The requirement for focussed attention can help participants to block personal preoccupations with sources of worry, promoting relaxation and the relief of stress. The cognitive stimulation of learning new music offers a challenging and worthwhile activity, helping to keep the mind active, giving many participants a great sense of achievement.
Lastly, singing in a choir is an intrinsically social activity, involving processes of co-operation and co-ordination. Regular commitment to attend rehearsals motivates people to avoid being physically inactive. The social support and friendly relationships made through becoming an active member of a choir promote a sense of wider ‘community’, social inclusion and belonging. Happiness indeed!
Smile… and keep on singing!
Clift, S & Hancox, G (2010). The significance of choral singing for sustaining psychological wellbeing: findings from a survey of choristers in England, Australia and Germany. Music and Health, Vol 3 (1), pp.79-96.
Grape, C . et al. (2003). Does singing promote well-being?: An empirical study of professional and amateur singers during a singing lesson. Integr Physiol Behav Sci. Jan-Mar; 38 (1): 65-74.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275795.php February 2016