Have you ever noticed how belting out in the shower or humming to music during your morning commute can set the tone for the entire day?
Singing doesn’t just make you feel good – research shows that it even has a surprisingly positive impact on your health and happiness.
A recent Swedish study found that singing in a choir can have the same calming effects as yoga. When people sing together, their breathing patterns and heart rates synchronize, producing a sense of harmony.
But even solo singing sessions can significantly improve your breathing capacity, stress levels and mood. Deep belly breathing and being focused on the music instead of your worries are key elements of reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Additionally, when the musical vibrations move through your body, endorphins and oxytocin are released – two hormones associated with feelings of pleasure and bonding, less stress and a better mood.
To someone like me who loves to sing and could use a health boost, these findings sound impressive. But over the last few years I’ve noticed that as a ‘responsible grown up’ with a never-ending to-do list, I somehow forget to make time to sing on a regular basis, even though it only takes a few minutes to benefit from the practice.
The One Month Tune – Up
“The Rules” and Tracking Our Progress
To find out for ourselves if singing can have a positive effect on our heart rate, breathing, stress levels and mood, Kaila and I will be singing at least one song a day for a month – and we’d love for you to join us!
It doesn’t matter whether your crooning like Michael Buble in the shower or rocking to Pink in the car, as long as you sing for a minimum of 3 minutes every day, it counts. But the more songs you can squeeze into your day, the better!
Kaila and I will also be using a heart rate variability monitor and/or app, to track if we see any measurable results after one month of singing. Of course you could also install a free app to roughly monitor your heart rate variability during this challenge, but that’s not necessary. They’re fun tools to objectively track the effects of singing regularly, but feeling happy and healthy is partly subjective – and maybe that’s the most important part anyway.
Perhaps you’re more interested in keeping a super simple journal to see how singing every day impacts your life, by writing down when you’re singing, what songs and how it made you feel. Maybe you’ll notice certain patterns: Do upbeat tunes in the morning boost your productivity? Does shouting to angry music after a stressful day leave you feeling empowered or rather more upset? It can be very useful to get insight into whether singing is a helpful, fun coping strategy for you to deal with everyday stress.
Creating The Singing Habit and Overcoming Obstacles
Creating new habits, even small ones, can be tricky. Science shows that in order to make new routines stick, it helps to formulate ‘implementation intentions‘. Implementation intentions are “if – then” plans that specify when and how you’ll be performing the new habit. In my case, it could be: “If I’ve finished my morning cup of cappuccino, then I’ll sing at least one song” or “If I’m cleaning the house, then I’ll put my headphones on”. Get the gist?
Just make sure to choose a daily ritual for your “If“, like taking a shower or cooking, instead of something you do only once in a while.
Also, design your environment so it triggers you to sing every day. For example, you could place your iPod where you can easily see it, put up a sticky note on your car radio, make Spotify your starting page or set daily reminders on your phone.
The last step in sticking to a new habit is thinking of ways to overcome obstacles that may prevent you from singing every day:
- Maybe you have little time? Well, anyone can make time to sing 3 minutes (the average length of one song) a day! It’s all about spotting the perfect singing opportunities: in the shower, on your way to work, while doing laundry or other boring household chores…
- Do you worry about complaining house mates or neighbours? Surely they won’t mind short singing sessions at decent times? Other options are singing in the car, doing karaoke on weekends or humming along in church.
- Do you feel embarrassed about your voice? Don’t! This singing challenge is not about Tony-worthy performances, but about self-expression, finding joy and hopefully boosting your health in the process. It’s better to sing proudly off-key, than not to sing at all.
“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald.
Would you like to see for yourself if singing regularly can boost your health and happiness? Then join the One Month Tune Up by sharing in the comments how you plan on getting into a daily singing habit and what songs you love to belt out!