Today is World Mental Health Day, and while the stresses of everyday life can take their toll, we’re here to offer up our suggestion to help your wellbeing; singing.
At Welsh National Opera, we obviously love singing and think it’s one of the great joys of this world, but did you know that there are many health benefits to belting out a tune? More and more research is being carried out on this topic and it all points to the many benefits of singing, such as helping with anxiety, depression and reducing stress.
Researchers have found that music and singing release dopamine and endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your brain that makes you feel uplifted and happy, as well as simply taking your mind off the day’s troubles, so it’s no wonder why it’s seen as being a good boost for your mental health. Singing also releases stored muscle tension and decreases the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your blood stream, which allows us to restore a sense of calm.
One of the best ways to combat stress is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness works as it helps you focus on one thing, rather than mentally multi-tasking. Singing is just one of the many activities that is classified as a mindful past time, so the next time you’re feeling stressed out, try a rendition of your favourite song.
Singing releases endorphins which are feel-good hormones that can help reduce depression. A tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus responds to the frequencies created by singing which can create an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of whether the sound is deemed good or bad by the listener – so you don’t even have to be a great singer to feel the benefits. Singing is often recommended by mental health professionals and doctors and even the world of nature recognises the importance of the song – apparently, bird sing to one another to make them happier.
Singing can also help with anxiety as one of the first things people experiencing anxiety are advised to do is to breathe slowly and deeply. It is the process of exhalation that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the body that enables you to rest), so long exhales help to rectify this naturally. As singing is a form of regular, controlled breathing, it helps you relax.
Whatever your age and stage in life, you can enjoy the benefits of singing and music. Belting out a few tunes, whether you sound good or not, is good for your body, mind and soul and the benefits for your mental wellbeing are huge. You don’t have to be able to hit the high notes of The Queen of the Night Aria or perform Nessun Dorma like Pavarotti for singing to boost your mental health, so, whether it’s in the shower, the car or at a concert, get singing to boost your endorphins and feel happier and more relaxed.