Drivers Sing, Happier They Are
Raising our voices in song is an uplifting experience and rocking out in the privacy of one’s car is often the best anecdote to a rough day. And, although it might be slightly embarrassing to get caught mid-lyric by a passing motorist, it’s worth it. Because singing—even off-pitch in your car—has serious benefits to your heart, mind, and soul.
According to Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, Professor Graham Welch, singing has benefits that are both psychological—reduces stress levels through the endocrine system–and physical—exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, oxygenates the blood, and gets the heart going.
According to Time.com writer Stacy Horn, singing releases endorphins, a hormone that is equated with feeling cheerful, and oxytocin, a stress and anxiety-relieving hormone. LifeHack.org writer Jay Hill adds that singing also releases serotonin and dopamine.
“When you sing, your brain releases chemicals that give you a natural high,” reports Hill. “If you sing along to a song that has especially positive associations or memories for you, then the effect is heightened even further.”
Tania de Jong, founder of Creativity Australia and creator of the Tedx Talk, How Singing Together Changes the Brain, further explains the effects of singing on the brain: “Every time you sing, you fire up the right temporal lobe of your brain, and release endorphins including oxytocin which result in heightened states of pleasure, bliss, bonding and love. These chemicals also enhance neuroplasticity of our brains, boost our immune system, fight illness, depression and strokes and help us handle pain better.”
Bursting into song is also an activity that requires being present and celebrates a connection to everything.
“Singing regularly also encourages you to develop better breathing control, and means you habitually take deeper, slower breaths. This can be good for anxiety as well as your general wellbeing,” reports Hill.
There isn’t much that’s better for our health than singing–except singing with others!
“Choral singers have been shown to have enhanced learning skills, synchronized heartbeats and enter patterns of yogic breathing. So what better activity for one’s mental health than a daily dose of song?” reports de Jong. “We spend about 85 percent of our time in the left side our brain which deals with logic and analytics. This drains our mental battery. The right side of our brains, which deals with intuition, emotion, creativity and fantasy, needs to be recharged. Activities which recharge our brains include meditation, being in nature, connecting with loved ones and — you guessed it — singing!”
Sounds like it’s time for your inner rock star to hit the road, and don’t forget your backup singers.