Tell me if this scenario resonates with you: You have the entire house to yourself, and no one’s due back home for at least a couple of hours. You’re in the clear — as are your vocal chords — so you take this rare opportunity to turn the volume all the way up on your favorite song, grab a hair brush to pose as a microphone, take center stage in front of your mirror, and belt one lyric after another, channeling your best Mariah Carey. There are a ton of health benefits of singing, and the best part is, you don’t even have to be musically inclined to reap them all. So if you have a few minutes to yourself, whether you’re in an empty dorm room, your car, or under a shower head, experts say belting a tune could be extremely beneficial to your health.
Singing at a recreational level seems pretty uninvolved on the surface, right? You open your mouth, and sound — good or bad — comes out. But even if you aren’t consciously thinking about what’s actually happening, there’s a lot of activity taking place inside the mind and body when you’re jamming to the new Halsey track on your way to work.
“When we sing, alone or in groups, a series of events happen in the body and the brain,” Dr. Soph, a clinical psychologist and expert on the mindfulness app Happy Not Perfect, tells Elite Daily. “Our breathing changes, our upper body muscles engage, our lung capacity increases, our attention focuses, we become more present,” and on top of all that, Dr. Soph explains, your brain is also sorting through information it has on music, language, tune, concentration, emotion — and that’s just the beginning.
Singing isn’t just a hobby — it’s a physiological and psychological project. So if the inner workings of your anatomy are responding to your jam sesh, are there any genuine health benefits of singing? Here are some of the few that experts agree on.
Singing Lowers Stress Levels In The Body
I don’t know about you, but whenever life throws me a curveball, one of the first things I turn to for solace is music. I’ll blast the volume, I’ll sing along to the lyrics, and it doesn’t even matter if the content of the actual song is happy or sad; I instantly feel so much better. Coincidence? Not according to Dr. Soph.
"Increased oxytocin and endorphins are only the start of it, as their increase is accompanied by a decrease in your stress hormone cortisol: the perfect recipe for a boost in mood," she explains. Translation: When you sing, feel-good hormones increase in the body, while stress hormones decrease.
"If you belt out that song at the top of your lungs, you add to that the sense of freedom, release, achievement, and a sense of abandon that we rarely experience in our ever increasingly busy lives, where we usually strive for perfection and a controlled exterior," Dr. Soph explains.
Singing In A Group Gives You A Sense of Belonging
Say what you want about us choir nerds, but there’s arguably nothing like the moment you and your peers create perfect harmony. It’s not just about the music, though it is pretty spectacular when every single person hits the right note at the right time; it’s about a group of human bodies working in unison, and contributing part of themselves to something much bigger.
"When you sing with others, something incredible happens," Dr. Soph tells Elite Daily. "Your heart syncs with those of the people around you, you breathe in unison. Your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for [your body’s] rest and digest response, is boosted." At that point, the music becomes only a fraction of the connection among the group. It ignites this kind of domino effect, in that you all feel relaxed, and trusting of one another to bring your best selves to the table.
The Breathing Techniques You Use To Sing Are Naturally Relaxing
Singing can be therapeutic on so many levels, and it all starts with your breathing. Jor-El Caraballo, a mental health expert and co-creator of the holistic wellness center Viva Wellness, tells Elite Daily that, physiologically speaking, singing requires a bunch of different muscles and bodily functions to both produce and manipulate sound. Of those bodily functions, he says, your breath is key.
"Controlled and mindful breathing has been linked to stress reduction and relaxation," Caraballo says, "so it stands to reason that singing can actually be a coping tool in emotional regulation."
Take it from someone who’s had it ingrained in her mind since middle school choir: When you sing, you breathe through your diaphragm, aka the same sort of breathing technique you’d use in a meditative or yoga practice to calm the body. See the connection here?
So the next time you can’t make it to your yoga mat, find a private room and sing a merry tune instead.
Singing Further Connects You To Your Music Memories
When you really think about it, it’s kind of mind blowing how powerful music is. I mean, even sad songs can make you happy sometimes.
Chances are, you probably associate specific sounds or soundtracks with different walks of life, and singing those songs, no matter how long it’s been, can bring you back to another time and place entirely. "Singing is the act of connecting with memories," Caraballo tells Elite Daily over email. "Expelling the energy can be cathartic, just like some kind of workout, but also singing can help us connect (and perform) those happy feelings, which can help us relish in those positive moments."
So make a playlist — or heck, make multiple playlists — and group songs together by how they make you feel. This way, the next time you’re feeling down, you have a karaoke lineup at the ready.
At The Very Least, It’s A Psychological Distraction
Mental health counselor Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC tells Elite Daily that, at the very least, singing can create a kind of psychological distraction from your thoughts. In other words, when the going gets rough, leaning on the lyrics of Justin Bieber, Frank Sinatra, whoever it may be, can instill a positive feeling in you that you may have been missing.
Each and every one of us could use a break from the busyness of life once in a while. The best way to escape, it seems, might just be through music.
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