Singing can be another great addition to your self care tool box.
I’m part of an amazing group of women who sing on Mondays at a local Hospice. Three or four of us sing a cappella calming, relaxing music in soft three-part harmony at the bedside of patients. It lifts me up so much to use my voice to give back to my community and support an organization I truly believe in – and even though I’m there to give back, I realize I’m receiving as much, if not more, than my audience.
Often these patients are highly sedated, so we may not get a response, but other times we sing to someone who is very aware. And sometimes we sing to someone who has something to teach us about life from the perspective of someone near death.
Recently, a very special gentleman did just that.
He agreed to have us circle his bed, sit down, and sing a few of our songs. Our music is all original, written by members of the choir from all over the country. There’s little chance the patient will know our soothing, comforting tunes, but that didn’t stop this gentleman from trying to sing along.
After a few songs he asked, “Do you know the song “You Are My Sunshine?””
He said he believed that all anyone needed to feel better was a good song and a loud voice
One of us did, and all three verses, so together we sang with him. Our audience-of-one beamed. He was ecstatic. And he said he believed that all anyone needed to feel better was a good song and a loud voice.
I couldn’t agree more.
When was the last time you sang loud and proud? In the car? In the shower?
Tribune reporter Umnia Shahid writes that we should bring out the Madonna in us because singing has multiple physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Here are 5 reasons singing is a great tool for self care:
Boosts cardiovascular health: Singing is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. It decreases risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.
Singing Stimulates the Brain: Singing requires memorizing lyrics and following a melody as well as connecting words with emotion. Breathing while singing brings more oxygen to the brain, which results in neurons firing, enhancing mental awareness, concentration and memory.
Singing Reduces Stress: When you sing, your brain releases feel-good chemicals including endorphins. This makes singing an effective mood lifter and a valuable tool in alleviating depression. Singing with a group develops a sense of community and belonging, thereby reducing anxiety. Singing is even used as therapy for people with cancer, dementia and for stroke survivors.
Singing improves the posture and breathing, as it increases the capacity of the respiratory system.
Singing is a Natural Healer: Singing ensures physical, mental, psychological and social well-being. It also improves the posture and breathing, as it increases the capacity of the respiratory system.
Singing Builds Confidence: Singing helps develop skills to speak in a natural, powerful and confident voice. It can improve your ability to use your speaking voice with more clarity and confidence and it releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps reduce anxiety, thus helping you overcome your fear of public speaking. Oxytocin also increases feelings of trust, which strengthens confidence in not only yourself but also those around you.
So there you go. Five great reasons singing should be added to your self care tool box. You don’t have to join a choir. Just sing in the car. Sing in the shower, to your grandchild, or to the TV the next time you watch American Idol.
Or sing “You Are My Sunshine” along with Johnny Cash (lyrics included below video) at You Are My Sunshine – and let me know how it made you feel to sing for self care.