Sing your heart out this Christmas – it’s good for you
The Christmas holidays are a busy time for choirs and carol singers who are busy hitting all the right notes and not just for the benefit of the audience – it’s good for the singers too.So even if you're like me and can't carry a tune in a bucket, cast aside your inhibitions and let loose with a few carols. You'll feel better for it, both spiritually and physically (and if you're like me, your singing will improve dramatically with a wee bit o' whiskey).
A recent study from Oxford Brookes University concluded that singing was the “most cost-effective way to improve people’s wellbeing” and that choir singing encouraged bonding in a group.
Previous studies have shown singing in a group could be a boost because breathing in synchrony triggers feel-good chemicals in the brain. It’s even thought to help strengthen the immune system and early studies show benefits for people with Alzheimer’s.
Dermot O’Callaghan, chief executive of the Association of Irish Choirs, says the benefits of singing are multifaceted. He encourages everyone, regardless of tone, to belt out a few lines whenever possible.
“Singing is good for mental, emotional and physical health,” he says. “Some of the obvious direct results of singing are elevated mood, improved memory and increased concentration. Stress and anxiety have also been proven to be significantly reduced after singing.
“All too often people have been told their singing voices are ‘not good’ or they may have developed that perception themselves. Obviously, like in all activities, some are more naturally gifted than others . . . but the benefits of singing are the same regardless of the level of accomplishment.”
Of course, not everyone is as mentally stable as you and I. Here's some Christmas carols for the mentally disturbed.
And what collection of Christmas carols would be complete without one dedicated to my family: