Today didn’t start well. Last night, I gave a difficult presentation at a meeting, and I was still turning things over in my mind when I awoke this morning. My husband and I grumbled at each other, and then I had an unpleasant encounter with someone while out walking the dogs. The day was shaping up to be a real drag.
I sing and play in a local band. We mostly do covers, sort of folk and Latin rock with Celtic, blues, jazz, and all kinds of other stuff thrown in. One of the other band members had given me a CD of some new music for us to work on, so I started listening to it. In spite of the murky thoughts lingering in my mind, I found myself starting to sing along, and before I knew it, two hours had gone by. During that two hours, I was in heaven, exploring the different sounds my voice made with the recording, analyzing the upcoming chords, anticipating the holes in the harmony that I needed to fill, sometimes hitting a bad note or getting the words wrong, but it didn’t matter. I was completely immersed in the process. My mind simply didn’t have any room to mull over unpleasant memories or people about which I could do nothing.
Now, I feel wonderful: light, refreshed, relaxed … like I just woke up from a nice nap or got back from a beautiful walk. My worries from last night and this morning are completely gone, and I’m ready to take on the world, including writing this blog post. Which is going remarkably easily. Much more easily than it would have gone with my previous gloomy, distracted mindset.
Well, scientists certainly would like to know. Whether we’re belting out a favorite song in the car with the stereo turned up loud, sitting with a guitar on a balcony or in a coffee house, taking center stage as part of a musical theater production or joining our voice with those of others in a church or community choir, there seems to be something almost magical about singing’s effect on the human body. My own grandfather insists that he overcame his depression through getting up every morning and singing before the sun rose. In study after study, the benefits of singing included not just the mental, but the emotional, physical, and even spiritual well-being of its participants. One might even be tempted to call singing a cure-all.
Here’s a rundown of just some of the health benefits of singing that have been reported:
Twenty Health Benefits of Singing
1. Works the lungs, tones up the intercostals and diaphragm.
2. Improves sleep
3. Benefits cardio function by improving aerobic capacity
4. Relaxes overall muscle tension
5. Improves posture.
6. Opens up sinuses and respiratory tubes
7. With training, could help decrease snoring
8. Releases endorphins
9. Boosts immune system
10. Helps improve physical balance in people affected by illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease
12. Increases self-esteem and confidence
13. Increases feelings of wellbeing
14. Increases mental alertness
15. Enhances mood
16. Reduces, anger, depression, and anxiety
17. Reduces stress
18. Stimulates creativity
20. Alleviates loneliness and acts as a social lubricant
Wait…there’s one more benefit to singing:
I’ve suspected for awhile now that having fun is way more important that our culture would like us to think. Having fun feels good. And when we feel good, our minds work better, our emotions work better, our bodies work better, we make better decisions, we relate to other people better … in short, everything works better.
Turns out, my observations are being backed up by science.
Physicists discovered awhile ago that we and everything we see exists in a soup of spinning, vibrating particles. Now they’re finding out that what we think and feel actually creates magnetic fields that cause these particles to echo our thoughts and feelings. Ain’t that a kicker? It’s like we’re walking around in a 3-D universal mirror. If we smile, the mirror smiles. If we frown, the mirror frowns. So anything we do that makes us feel good literally spins our bodies and our worlds into feeling good, too.