If an apple a day keeps the doctor away then a song a day might just help keep the smile on your face.
Recent studies have shown that singing can make you feel happier. Some of the reasons are physical. For a start, belting out a tune releases endorphins, and we all know how good they can be. I'll confess to now wondering what kind of jogger's high one could achieve by combining singing with chocolate, but I digress...
Singing is an aerobic activity, which means it increases the oxygen levels in your blood, which in turn improves circulation, which in its turn promotes a good mood. Furthermore, singing requires deep breathing. What else requires deep breathing? Yes, exactly, meditation. So, singing can make you happy AND relaxed. Win-win.
And guess what else? Because you are gently exercising your facial muscles while you sing, one of the great benefits of singing regularly is that it can keep you looking younger (man, I wish I'd known about that twenty years ago!).
Given the above, is it any wonder that an Australian study revealed that choral singers rated their satisfaction with life higher than other members of the community?
Other than the physical effects of tra-la-laaing, there are some pretty hefty psychological ones too. It is very hard to worry and sing at the same time--go ahead, try it. Therefore, while you are singing, work stresses, family issues, and money troubles are momentarily on hold. That has to be good news for our stress levels, don't you think? And I can't help feeling that singing out loud and proud with gusto is an awful lot like play-a fabulous way to rediscover one's inner child.
Professor Grenville Hancox, director of the Sidney de Haan Research centre for Arts and Health in Kent, has been working to persuade the medical profession to prescribe singing instead of Prozac. "If we could engage more and more people in singing, I'm sure we would have a healthier nation."
Seriously, though, can singing really have that much of an effect?
Okay, the challenge is on. I want to find out if singing can increase my happiness. For the next seven days I am going to sing out loud (loud being the operative word) to at least one song a day. I'm going to keep a record of the songs I sing and how I'm feeling afterwards. Who's going to join me? We can report back in a month and compare notes.