Sing More, Feel Better (Part Two)
Written by: Enya Lim | SRMC Lecturer
In the first half of this two part discussion, we learnt of the uplifting effect singing can have on our mood and emotions—following, a voice expert further elaborates on why singing has a therapeutic and relieving outcome:
“When we sing, our brain triggers the release of hormones known as endorphins…” says established voice and singing coach Dr. Daniel K Robinson of Dr Dan’s Voice Essentials on YouTube—where he shares voice health and singing practice tips with his following of over 194,000 in the singing community. Endorphins are one of four so-called ‘happy hormones’— the other three are dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Working together in ideal circumstances, they help regulate, stimulate, and uplift one’s mental state. In particular “[Endorphins’] pain relief effect is well known and there is evidence that it is involved in producing pleasant feeling and euphoric states”, adds Dr Dan.
Supporting this further is Baishali Mukherjee, the Southeast Asia regional liaison for the World Federation of Music Therapy: “Endorphins [released by singing are] related to an overall lifted feeling of happiness, it gives a feeling of euphoria so it’s all associated with a reduction in stress…” Following, it is long established in medical and therapy communities that singing definitely helps to improve mood in conditions such as anxiety and depression (Reagon et al., 2016; Kang et al., 2017).
Moreover, singing is an aerobic exercise which also engages what could well be the human body’s greatest stress-reliever – breathing. The physical effort and coordination required for singing – the filling of lungs, deliberate control of our vocal chords, supporting movements of our mouth and body – all contribute to why it not only lifts our mood, but also reduces stress levels. Deep or diaphragmatic breathing enables a full oxygen-exchange in the lungs. This then activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping to calm the heart rate and dilate blood vessels – effectively lowering one’s blood pressure. A recent study found that parts of the brain linked to emotion, attention and body awareness are activated by concentrating on controlling your rate of breathing – essential in singing.
With all this revealed, now you have an easily accessible—and data proven!—mood fix for next time you want a quick pick me up: sing a song, it won’t be long!