Belting out music is great for your overall physical health, boosts your mental health and may even improve your breathing and reduce symptoms of asthma. Throughout history and across cultures, music has been used as a healing ritual.
So, how can singing Jingle bells boost your wellbeing this Christmas?
In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, Medical Humanities, a team of researchers analysed participants who took part in the Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) project- an initiative that runs weekly singing workshops aimed for people with mental health conditions as well as the general public.
The research project followed the group for six months and undertook interviews and focus groups with participants, organisers and workshop leaders.
What the study found was that singing in groups doesn’t only make you happier; it could also improve your mental health, easing conditions such as anxiety and depression. The results showed that people who took part in a community singing group were able to maintain or improve their mental health.
The researchers concluded that taking part in a group activity like singing, on a weekly basis, provided support, structure and contact that helped people improve their mood, feel good, and function better in their everyday life.
Importance of singing
Making music exercises the brain and body, but singing is particularly beneficial for improving breathing, posture and muscle tension. Listening to and participating in music has been shown to be effective in pain relief too. This is probably due to the release of neurochemicals in the brain, like the “feel good” hormone, endorphin.
It’s also been suggested that music can play a role in sustaining a healthy immune system as it helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol while at the same time boosting antibodies.
The psychology of singing
Singing has been shown to improve your sense of happiness and wellbeing. Research has found that people feel more positive after actively singing than they do after passively listening to music or after chatting about positive life events.
The improvement of mood may come directly from the release of positive neurochemicals like endorphin, dopamine and serotonin. This effect is also likely boosted by social connection and interaction with others..
Social connection plays a crucial role in maintaining health. The rapid social bonding that is encouraged by being ins a choir can lead to a sense of increased community and belonging.
So sing your heart out this Christmas, and enjoy not only the joy you feel while doing it, but the health benefits it brings too..