Self Help Sanctum

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Sing More, Feel Better

by Amanda Clarke

Stress gets to us all. Whether it's getting stuck in traffic, dealing with an overbearing boss, or trying to juggle your busy schedule, sometimes it just gets to be too much. The daily grind can be draining, exhausting. The best remedy is to find ways to relax. Believe it or not, something as simple as singing provides both mental and physical health benefits. It doesn't matter if you have a lovely voice or if you're tone deaf. Here are five great reasons why you should belt a few tunes the next time you're feeling down.

1. Sing Your Heart Out

You might be stationary, but your body is definitely getting a workout while you sing. Singing is an aerobic activity. This means that while you sing, your heart and lungs are forced to work harder than they usually do. The more you participate in aerobic activities, the stronger your heart and lungs become, which can lead to some amazing health benefits. Healthy hearts have lower risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease. You won’t be so winded in other physical activities because every time you hold a note you’re increasing your lung capacity. In fact, because of its heavy emphasis on deep, relaxed breathing, singing is often compared to yoga, just without the complex contortions.

2. Raise Your Mood a Few Octaves

Singing is great for your mental health too. As it was mentioned previously, singing gets your heart rate up. When this happens, your body releases endorphins, otherwise known as the feel-good hormones that help reduce stress and elevate your mood. This effect increases when you sing with others. Singing with a group develops a sense of community, of belonging. The feeling is so strong, that researchers in Sweden found that as people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize. Singing has even been found to be excellent therapy for those who suffer from cancer, dementia, and strokes.

3. The Rhythm of Confidence

Even the most confident individual can be insecure at times. Singing can help boost your confidence not only within yourself, but it can transfer to other areas as well, like public speaking. Researchers have found that a hormone called oxytocin is released when you sing. Oxytocin reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, while increasing feelings of trust. This is especially true in a choir, where there is often a strong group dynamic. It is important to mention that people who sing still get nervous. This is not a cure, just a strategy. The idea is to make stress reducing activities a habit, so that your body mimics its response to relax you whether you’re singing or presenting in front of an audience.

4. The First Note is Free

As you may have noticed, singing is the lowest of low maintenance when it comes to the world of music. If you’re on a budget, remember that singing doesn’t require any musical instruments or equipment. You can sing anywhere you like, anytime you like. Many people sing in the shower, in the car, or at a karaoke night with friends. If singing in a group is something that interests you, search for choirs or other musical groups in your area. If you want some free singing tips, read articles on the subject, or check out YouTube for tutorials on breathing techniques, how to read music, and more.

5. Music on the Brain

Your voice is the most versatile instrument out there. The more you sing, the more you learn about composers, musicians, and styles of sound. It can help you appreciate different cultures and be more inquisitive about the world around you. It also opens you up to new ideas; singing helps create new neural pathways in your brain. Perhaps you’ll find that you have a passion for singing and music, and will strive to incorporate it into your professional life. Radio stations, recording studios, and the theatre are all potential places to work. Maybe you’ll want to work at a voice over agency, and bring characters to life in ads for various companies. The possibilities to work with the human voice are endless.

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