I see the benefits that singing brings everyday, in my work life, leading singing for wellbeing sessions with people living with dementia, stroke survivors, and carers, as well as in my home life with two primary-school aged children. Singing is good for us in so many ways! Here is an overview of how singing can improve our wellbeing, based on my own and others’ experiences and research.
Singing makes us feel good – research shows that the act of singing releases endorphins; and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Singing with a group, learning new songs and remembering familiar songs requires concentration – so worries and tensions can be forgotten for the duration of the session. “Tensions are left at the door” – for example, worries about health, or the stress of hospital visits. Families who are facing health challenges together are able to enjoy a simple, fun activity.
Singing builds confidence – remembering familiar songs and learning new songs, taking the plunge and trying something new – all help us foster a sense of pride and achievement in ourselves, which is all important if we have had a knock to our confidence following health difficulties such as a stroke.
Singing brings people together – singing together as a group forges friendships, and can even combat loneliness and isolation by giving people a reason to get out of the house and bringing people together: in the case of both stroke and dementia this is incredibly important. Where friends and family members attend a group together, it can help them to reconnect. Singing as part of a group fosters a feeling of belonging. Singing familiar and new songs stimulates conversation between group members, and sharing of stories.
Singing can help with speech difficulties – sometimes when people struggle with speech as a result of stroke or dementia, for example, they are able to sing.
Singing can help with memory problems – people experiencing memory loss associated with dementia or stroke are sometimes able to recall memories of song lyrics and melodies.
Singing is good for ALL of us, whether or not we have specific health related needs or challenges. EVERYONE can, and should, sing. So, keep singing – and encourage those around you to sing with you!