“If you have nothing to dance about, find a reason to sing.”

Melody Carstairs

People have always sung.  All cultures do it; perhaps by humming a repetitive tone, creating a beat or fluttering melodies.  Singing (and music) is known to be beneficial.  It makes us feel good.  You can’t turn on the television without there being some kind or music or talent show.  The radio is full of music.  People are walking around with their headphones glued to their ears listening to music.  Why would we do this if it wasn’t so pleasant?  The answer is that we wouldn’t.

Singing is thought to release endorphins and oxytocin.  These are chemicals that are produced by the body in times of stress and distress.  Broadly speaking, they help to alleviate stress and anxiety.  Endorphins also are the body’s natural painkillers (they work in a similar way to codeine and morphine without the addictive side-effects).  They can create feelings of euphoria and wellbeing.

If you want to think of other examples where singing has been therapeutic just consider the times that a baby is sung to sleep or comforted by a song.  All of us have an inner child (even if we don’t want to admit it).

I was thinking of a teenager I know who struggles with anxiety.  She discovered that playing the piano and singing would make her feel better much quicker than moping about in her room.  Being a teenager, part of her wanted to mope and that was fine but sometimes it got in the way of doing things she wanted to do.  She discovered that singing One Direction songs loudly served two purposes… it punished her brother and made her feel much better.  Her parents will now suggest she goes for a “sing” in her room.

Why not try having a “good old sing-song” yourself?  It’s great because not only does it release these “feel good” hormones, it helps you to control your breathing.  You don’t need to know the words, la la la is fine, as is humming.  If you are finding that you are stuttering over your words, you may find that singing them helps you to get then out easily.

Any song works.  I know someone who sings “Jingle Bells” at any time of year.  If you don’t know what to sing or perhaps life is too hard or sad to sing then sing a song about that.  Country music and blues are full of songs about hard times.  If singing the song means that you start to cry, then that can be cathartic too.  Allow yourself to express your joy, anger, excitement and sadness.  What you are feeling is what you are feeling.

If you want to maximise the positive effects of singing, consider joining a group.  Singing in a group is known to have an especially positive effect.  You don’t need to be good.  The others in the group don’t need to be good.  The group doesn’t need to be good!  Just singing together, as a unit is positive.  It is possible that this is to do with creating a sense of belonging and community.  We all like to know we belong.

If you feel that you would like to explore things further with me, then please contact me at: louise@newcastlecounselling.co.uk.

@FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles