Important note: this work makes no medical claims, and it is up to you, dear reader, to use any information you find here responsibly and intelligently, toward yourself and others.
All material ©Sing into Joy
I was saving this subject for the holidays, but I think we need it now, during this week of election cliff-hanging and sobering public health news.
There are hundreds of studies that show the benefits of singing—on the body, the mind, the emotions. It has a holistic, integrated effect on all these areas. For today, let’s focus on how singing for even 10 minutes can boost your mood.
First we look at the body:
· When we sing, we tend to stand (or sit) taller. The better alignment helps mood already, and begins the process of releasing stored muscle tension. In the process it decreases the level of cortisol, that well-known stress hormone, in the bloodstream.
· On the increase side, singing, like other forms of aerobic exercise, releases endorphins. Endorphins are those feel-good, stress reducing chemicals that carry electrical signals not only throughout the brain, but the entire nervous system.
· Your deeper breathing when you sing causes more oxygen to circulate in your blood—promoting a good mood and also helping to reduce anxiety. In a future blog I’ll talk about the vagus nerve, an important cranial nerve that really likes long slow out-breaths. But meanwhile just try this:
Stand or sit comfortably, and slowly exhale all the breath in your lungs, till you feel empty. Then open your mouth and throat and just let the air in. It will fill you without your trying to “take a deep breath.” Do this a total of 3 times and notice how you feel afterward. A little better? A little more peaceful?
· The buzz! Here’s a cool discovery: there’s a tiny organ in the ear, the sacculus, that responds to the sound frequencies created by singing. The response, say scientists, creates an immediate sense of pleasure—whatever the quality of the singing itself.
And of course, the vibrations of singing travel through all the cells of the body, thus can literally raise our own frequency, and also what we're putting out into the world.
This leads us to some of the direct emotional avenues we can take with singing.
· Singing for even a few minutes can take your mind off the troubles of the day and give your emotions a chance to reboot. Whether you do warm-ups and exercises, sing songs, or both, it works.
· Pick the right song to shift your mood. It could serve as catharsis (maybe the blues or a good crying-it-out song--or a yelling-it-out song as long as you're not hurting your voice), or as pick-me up happy music, or as a calm stream on a meditative lyric. The words, the music, and the experience of singing something meaningful to you, or something silly to just give you a lift, all contribute to a change of mood.
· Learning a new song, either one you just heard or one you’ve always wanted to sing, is easier with all the access we have online. And it’ll stimulate your thinking and memory faculties while you’re at it.
This is a very short list of some ways singing—even on our own, before we find ways to rejoin others safely in song—can help bring us out of an anxious funk. Our ability to be of service out in the world starts with taking care of ourselves. Supporting how we feel with song may be exactly the place to start.
How about making yourself a promise that you’ll carve out 10 minutes a day to Just Sing? BTW, I’m working on a way to make it easier to do that: more about that development soon.
Message me if you'd like to share your thoughts or experiences with this subject.
©Danielle Woerner 2020