Jul 12, 2011

A Song a Day

by Michelle Douglas

Reading: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Philips
Watching: Martin Chuzzlewit
Listening to: Dido
Making me smile: The songs on my IPod

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.


  1. Love this thought Michelle although i would have to be one of the worlds worst singers LOL no choir would have me when I was in school they all said no thank you no matter how often i tried out for them LOL but I do always sing along to the radio whether in the car or at home and enjoy it but I don't think other people enjoy listening to me sing.

    Have Fun with your challenge

  2. Hi Helen,

    I'm not sure any self-respecting choir would welcome my talents either. And a karaoke gal I'm not. But if I know no one else can hear me... well, I pretend I can belt out a tune with the best of them! (I guess we all have our little fantasies :-) )

  3. Michelle,

    I'm just home from an appointment and walked in to find my daughter playing an Annie Lennox album on high volume. It's enough to make a girl want to sing AND dance. Good luck with the song a day. I might manage a chorus or two at this rate. Thanks for the tip on the benefits of belting out a tune.

  4. Interesting hypothesis, Michelle. Totally makes sense.

    I'm with you and Helen - my singing abilities would never be welcome by anyone else, but I guess I could follow your example and pretend.

    What I have I got to lose? (Well, besides my dignity...)

  5. I am *so* in.

    I can make nails down a blackboard sound good - but that doesn't stop me, lol.

    Reminds me of a song by The Carpenters (Sing a Song):

    "Don't worry that it's not
    Good enough
    For everyone else to hear
    Just sing, sing a song"

  6. I'm in too! I love when a great song comes on in the car, you turn up the volume, the words and tune take you back and then the goosies start to rise!

    My 9yo dd will be in the challenge too, although she never *stops* singing - or smiling!

  7. What a great idea, Michelle. I'll give it a go, too.

  8. Annie, the Eurythmics were the first band I ever saw live. And, oh my, that Annie Lennox can really strut her stuff! What fab taste your daughter has! If she keeps playing such fab music so loud, I'm sure you'll get a chorus a day in. :-)

  9. Hey, Rach, who needs dignity? :-) And I'm sure your menagerie of dogs would love to join in the singing and the dancing.

  10. Anita, I love the "Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear" line. That's my motto for the next week. :-)

    And Yay -- choir rejects of the world unite!

  11. Ooh, Robbie, when one of those songs come on in the car I'll sometimes keep driving around until it finishes (life's too short to pass up on goosebumps).

    The ranks are swelling -- so glad you AND your daughter are joining in the fun, Robbie.

  12. Yay, Zana, glad you're joining in -- figure we don't have anything to lose (and if nothing else we'll get a good laugh at ourselves). :-)

  13. Hey, fabulous idea, Michelle! I love singing and have always wanted to join a choir -- except that I can't sing in tune... Very happy to sing at home, though -- especially if it makes me happier!

  14. LOL, Emily. It seems we're all happy to warble, but none of us are exactly what you'd call nightingales. My sister-in-law sings in a community choir that has a policy of not turning anyone away, regardless of talent. All they require is enthusiasm. I love that idea. Still... I think I'll err on the side of caution and save the vocals for when I'm home alone.

  15. I got busted once at a party singing my lungs out (very very out of tune) after I'd walked out of the packed room. I turned around mid-note and saw some guy had followed me - I then stupidly decided to keep on singing just to pretend I wasn't totally embarrassed.
    Think I should have quit before I dug myself even deeper...

  16. Oh, Mel, that made me laugh so hard. I'd have loved to have seen it -- I'd have even joined in on the out-of-tune singing!