If there’s one good thing I’ve learnt during the current global pandemic, it’s recognising how incredibly important our mental health is.
According to statistics published by The Health Foundation, 69% of adults in the UK have been affected by mental health issues during lockdown.
63% of these are worrying about the future, 56% are generally feeling more stressed and anxious than normal, and 49% are suffering from boredom.
The biggest concern that The Health Foundation has highlighted is that mental health ‘services were already stretched with many providers reporting an inability to meet the demand.’
With a second wave fast approaching there’s no better time to stop and think about how to best to manage and improve your mental health. The NHS recommends these 5 simple steps to mental wellbeing:
1. Connecting with others;
3. Learning a new skill;
4. Giving back to others; and
5. Mindfulness - Give my beginners guide to meditation a try
If you’re an efficiency freak like me, and you’re looking for an activity that’s going to get you physically active, energised yet relaxed, and connect you with likeminded people then singing is the activity for you! Here’s why...
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
And of course, grab a copy of my ultimate vocal health starter guide where I'll share how to create a vocal health routine and reset your voice in 14-days!
Singing has been recognised as being good for our health and wellbeing since at least 1588 when William Byrd outlined 8 reasons why everyone should sing.
400 and something years later and researchers are still trying to figure out why singing is so good for us.
What we do know is that when we’re singing our bodies release endorphins and oxytocin.
Endorphins, also known as a happy hormone, is associated with pleasure and responsible for enhancing our mood. It’s the main reason GPs recommend physical exercise for depression sufferers. You can grab a FREE copy of my Singer’s Guide to Aerobic Exercise to get you more active today.
Oxytocin helps to alleviate stress and anxiety and creates a feeling of trust, which is why singing has been reported to reduce depression and loneliness.
So, whether you’re *usually* an active singer on a lockdown break or completely new to singing, here’s two ways you can start singing and start improving your mental health today.
TAKE Take 1-2-1 Singing Lessons
You can use 1-2-1 singing lessons to EITHER build your skills and confidence in preparation for joining a choir in the future OR simply for yourself. I have several students that have no ambition to sing outside of their 1-2-1 lessons. They simply do it for themselves and their own enjoyment.
By now, many singing teachers have resumed face-to-face lessons, with restrictions in place, or course. Alternatively, there’s always online lessons.
What works best for my students is:
Face-to-face lessons | a one hour lesson, once a month.
Online lessons | 30-minute lesson, twice a month.
This doesn’t sound like a lot BUT during lessons I only work on 1-2 tasks at a time. I do this because it takes approximately 3-4 weeks for a habit to start to take shape and 1-2 tasks is not a big commitment when you’ve got a busy schedule. Each lesson then builds from the last and overall result is that the student feels a sense of achievement.
Every singing teacher has a different approach BUT during lessons you will be working towards improving your vocal technique and developing skills that build trust and confidence in your voice. The added benefit of 1-2-1 singing lessons is your getting that one on one attention.
AND here’s what may surprise you, working on a skill like singing will help you boost your general self-confidence and self-esteem and improve your overall mental health. Whether you chose to share your voice with the world or not.
If you need help finding a singing teacher that’s right for you take a look at my article on what to look for in a singing teacher to get you started.
JOIN A CHOIR
Your other option is to join a choir. There have been many links between choir singing and mental health.
In 2017 the Big Choral Census found that there were approximately 2.14 million people in choirs just in the UK.
BUT if you think you need to have some sort of X-Factor super singing talent to join a choir - think again, my friend!
As Daniel Coyle said:
‘Talent isn’t born, it’s grown’
There’s an estimated 40,000 choirs in the UK, ranging from professional standard, to semi-professional, to small local community choirs. You can find choirs at British Choirs on the Net or by simply plugging ‘choirs near me’ into google.
I recommend all my students consider joining some sort of group singing whether that’s amdram, choral singing, or in their local church choir. The choice is their and it’s whatever takes their fancy. I do this because there’s a whole other experience when singing with others that you just don’t get from 1-2-1 lessons.
If you’re thinking that choir singing is a little more difficult and risky during these times, what I’d say to you is don’t underestimate the value of a virtual choir.
Recently, I took part in Opera North’s Couch to Chorus. Mostly because I was curious to see how a virtual choir could work but to my surprise it worked really well! AND I really enjoyed it!
If you’re worried about the technology - don’t be. It’s not as complicated as it seems. I would estimate that the majority of singers doing Opera North's Couch to Chorus were between the ages of 55 and 70, and if they can do it, so can you!
The biggest benefit of virtual choirs is that it’s a great place to start if you’re a little nervous about singing in front of others. Your mic is off the entire time so only you, your family (and perhaps your neighbours) can hear you.
This can help take the anxiety away but it can also give you a flavour for the structure and pace of rehearsals when in-person rehearsals resume. So, no suprises!
Personally, I prefer a combination of both 1-2-1 singing lessons and group singing. I like the one on one attention in singing lessons that helps me build and refine my own skills BUT I also enjoy the experience and the ‘high’ of singing with others - even if that’s virtually for the time being!
AND there you have it - two ways to use singing to transform your mental health.
I think we can all agree that never before has investing in our mental health been so important. And singing is a great way to improve your mental health, have some fun, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of MONEY or TIME.
If you already know this, love to sing, and you are still not taking 1-2-1 lessons or involved in a choir, comment below and let me know what’s holding you back.
And don't forget to grab your freebie:
The Ultimate Vocal Health Guide
- a 14-day plan to help you improve your voice!
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