Posted by: jude49 | July 18, 2016

Experiencing Racing Anxious Thoughts? Try Singing.

Hello Readers!

For years, I suffered with panic attacks. When I tried to sleep, all sorts of scary thoughts raced through my head. One night out of sheer desperation, I grabbed a children’s songbook published by my church. I started singing the songs, all verses. My voice quivered and cracked, but I kept on singing. Around the 5th or 6th song, I started to feel different. My body wasn’t shaking as much, and I was starting to feel less anxious. I was frightened to stop singing so I sang every song in the book I knew. It took about 45 minutes. After I finished singing the songs, I noticed that the  thoughts that were terrorizing me had dimmed. I felt that I had control over my body again. For years, I kept that songbook close to me. There wasn’t one time I used it that it didn’t succeed in calming me down.

Why did singing calm me down. Here are my thoughts…

  • the songs were like lullabies…soothing and calming
  • the words were ones of peace, hope and comfort
  • giving voice to the songs rather than singing them in my mind focused and grounded me in the present moment
  • singing the songs out loud rather than silently made me breathe…you have  to breathe to sing!
  • singing the songs took the focus off the anxious thoughts

As I sang the songs, I began to be more familiar with the words and the melodies. Often, I would find myself humming or quietly singing the songs (out loud and in my head) during the day when I felt anxious. I found that when I became anxious at night, I didn’t have to sing as many songs to calm down as I had previously.

With our knowledge of brain science, I now know that singing was changing my brain. Endorphins, a hormone released by singing, is associated with pleasurable feelings. Oxytocin, another hormone released by singing, can alleviate anxiety and depression.

Singing alone is good, but singing with others is even better! Ever since I was young, I have sung in choirs. Singing together creates community and lessens loneliness. Remember, we are wired to connect with each other. Singing in choirs has been a calming and productive activity for millions, including me. More and more, singing is being recognized for its health benefits. Years ago, auditioning for any choir was a pre-requisite for joining. More and more, though, choir groups are springing up that just require a willing spirit and a love of singing. There is even a drop-in singing group in Vancouver every week!

I’m joining a choral group this fall in Vancouver, BC as I’ve realized I need that community and, most of all, I need to sing!! It’s fun and it’s healthy. What about you?

Best,

Judith

Reference: Singing Changes Your Brain by Stacy Horn

Singing Changes Your Brain

 

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