The art of music and singing have been around since the very beginning of humanity. People have been playing instruments and using their voices to make melodies for thousands of years. The styles and techniques of music have changed and evolved to reflect the times, but it still provides positive effects no matter the genre or origin. While it is a wonderful and entertaining pastime that can spark forgotten memories from our childhood, fill the silence of long car rides, and even help us get over a breakup, music and singing greatly benefit our mental health.
Music has been proven to be an effective form of care to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, as well as improve mood and social interactions. Stress negatively impacts the cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems of the body, but music has been shown to reduce stress and thus offer boosts in fighting off diseases. Music therapy is increasingly being used as a complimentary form of treatment for mental health disorders because of the fantastic mental and emotional health benefits provided at less cost.
Singing stimulates the vagus nerve (which is connected to the vocal cords and forms the most important part of the parasympathetic nervous system), causing the heart rate to slow and emulate peaceful stillness in the body. Endorphins are released when you sing, which improve mood levels, and the increased breathing required to sing releases more oxygen in the blood to improve circulation. Singing and music are extremely important to the body, but it doesn’t end there.
As social distancing continues to wane in the retreat of COVID-19-related measures, the longing for social connection that many individuals have felt over the last two years can finally be qualmed. And what better way than by joining a choir?! The mental health benefits of music and singing wrapped up in a group activity that promotes community, collectivity, and mutual support sounds like the perfect place to fully unfurl our wings after being in a cocoon for the past two years. Singing and music provide a connection that anchors the next era of inclusive, collective, community-based society.
Music is an extremely social activity; it requires that one person be able to hear, feel, and respond to the sounds, melodies, and harmonies created by another. Reciprocity – singing and listening, playing music and hearing a song, creating a body-moving beat and reacting to the tune – is how music is both created and enjoyed. To take the social, community aspect out of singing and music would be to remove the very essence of the activity itself. Whether you decide to join an actual impromptu band of musicians, a full performing choir, or even a group of early-2000s-alt-punk-rock-listening enthusiasts, music can be a huge part in finding healing and wholeness moving forward.
Studies have shown that the communal and social aspects of being in a choral group provide psychological benefits, but they are not mutually exclusive to choirs. Solo-performing or even just singing alone in the shower helps too! At the end of the day, the role of social contacts provides added benefits; don’t underestimate them. The key is to find your genre(s) and fully engage.
At Simply Psych, we advocate for investing more time doing activities that you enjoy, that help you find meaning and purpose, and that bring you closer together with others around you (both those that look and sound like you, as well as people that are totally different from you). Singing and music provide all of these things, no matter how you choose to engage, formulate, or perform it. The only way forward is together; music is a beautiful and beneficial way to collaborate and connect.
Need inspiration? Check out this awesome video of a local men’s choir, featuring our very own Dr. Dixon!
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