Few things feel better than belting out a well-worn tune at the top of your lungs. Need evidence? Think of how cathartic it is just watching Tom Cruise scream-sing “Free Fallin'” in Jerry Maguire. Then, remember all of the times you’ve found similar release through music, whether it be in traffic, in the shower, at your favorite local karaoke joint, or elsewhere.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia found that these singing sessions offer real and measurable benefits with respect to both anxiety and depression. Over the course of six months, about 120 people—both with and without mental-health conditions—who participated in weekly singing workshops via the UK-based Sing Your Heart Out workshop maintained or even improved their mental health. “All of the participants we spoke to reported positive effects on their mental health as a direct result of taking part in the singing workshops,” said lead researcher Tom Shakespeare, PhD.
Researchers attribute the mental-health benefits to a unique combination of no-pressure singing and socializing.
Dr. Shakespeare and his researcher Dr. Alice Whieldon specifically attributed these benefits to the program’s unique combination of no-pressure singing and socializing. “The main way that Sing Your Heart Out differs from a choir is that anyone can join in regardless of ability,” said Dr. Shakespeare. “There’s also very little pressure because the participants are not rehearsing towards a performance.” They reportedly cited a sense of belonging and improved confidence as additional reasons for the program’s success in treating mental-health issues.
To reap similar benefits, no-pressure singing environments like your shower or car may work perfectly fine; however, setting up a regular karaoke sesh with friends may best mirror the results shown in this study. The community, structure and, of course, singing involved in such a social gathering could be just what the doctor ordered as a (super-fun and affordable) antidote to the blues.
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