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Singing for self-care

We’re standing in a circle, hands held and eyes closed. Breathing in and out, connecting to our heart-center, connected with everyone else in the room. After a squeeze, sending our energy to our neighbors, we start moving around the room, chanting.

Have I joined a cult?

No – I’ve joined a choir. And being in a choir is pretty amazing.

Singing is good for you

Singing is healthy for many reasons: physical, hormonal, psychological,…

Employing proper singing techniques and breathing is like a little workout for your lungs and diaphragm. And like other forms of exercise, singing releases endorphins in your brain. Heard of a runner’s high? Singing can give you a singer’s high!

Singing also affects other hormones in your body. For one, it decreases the levels of cortisol, one of the main stress hormones, in your blood. A singing-life is a stress-free life! Music (both listening to music and creating music) also releases both dopamine and serotonin, two hormones closely linked to happiness. Dopamine helps regulate the brain’s pleasure and reward centers, while serotonin is involved in regulating mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, and memory. Basically, singing, whether alone in the shower or while driving a car, in a karaoke bar, or in a group hits all the happiness hormones!

The health benefits of singing are not just hormonal. Employing a correct singing technique can also improve your posture: sitting or standing hunched does not help your tone. By having to stand up straight, you’ll teach your muscles proper posture! Health benefit numero dos!

There is also some evidence that singing can help reduce snoring and sleep apnea – essentially making you (and your bed partner) sleep better!

Choir director leading a choir
Deeji Killian directing the Northwest Firelight Chorale
Photo Credit: Jonathan Vogel

Singing with other people is even better for you!

Studies also show that singing in a choir is good, not only for your mood (see all the happiness hormones listed above) but also for your immune system! After taking part in an amateur choir rehearsal, participants of the study showed an increased presence of immunoglobin A, indicating that their immune system is up and healthy!

A more anecdotal effect of singing in a choir is the increased sense of community. This doesn’t only count for choirs, but for other social hobbies you might have. Feeling like you belong is good for you!

Singing is good for you – no matter your age!

From when you’re a little babbie to in your old age, all the health benefits above are valid! The brains of babies that are exposed to singing early in their life are being prepared for learning language. In addition, singing has a positive effect on memory. Studies have shown that in patients with dementia, singing improved memory and reduced depression.

So no matter your age, your talent or your skill, I’d recommend singing. Whether it’s in a choir, singing along with your favorite song in the car, hitting the karaoke bar, or making up silly songs in the shower, it will make you feel healthy, happy and hilarious!

Picture of people singing in a choir
Northwest Firelight Chorale singing “The Sleigh”
Photo Credit: Jonathan Vogel

Sources (not quoted in the text):

You’re Brain and Singing: Why singing in a Choir Makes You Happier

The New Science of Singing Together

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