Singing is a natural impulse for releasing stress and expressing ourselves.
How many of us can relate to this scene from the film Jerry McGuire?
This scene is a wonderful example of letting go to music and singing like nobody’s watching. It captures the joy, freedom and release that can come from singing.
Chances are we all know what kind of music can invite our own “Jerry McGuire Moment.” When I’m holding a lot of stress, there’s nothing quite like throwing on some Madonna and belting along to Vogue while I get ready for work. When I’m stuck in 401 traffic, singing along to the sweet tunes of the Indigo Girls is just the ticket to chilling me out. We all know what tunes help us instantly unwind. Singing like nobody’s listening is sometimes the easiest antidote for a stressful moment.
Singing is a proven stress-reducing activity. It releases feel-good hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin, increases circulation, and gets us taking deeper breaths. Singing in groups – be it campfires or choirs – can help us feel socially connected and supported.
We can all use singing to help us manage stress. Begin though by identifying what music can give you this “Jerry McGuire Moment.” You can make playlists or CDs that you know get you singing along. Don’t be embarrassed by your choices! The music I listen to seriously is very different from the music I listen to when I want to let go of stress. Sometimes the most stress-releasing music is the silliest, lightest, cheesiest stuff out there. It’s okay. Whatever gets you going.
Whether it means stepping outside at work with an ipod for a 5-minute sing-along party to the Rolling Stones, hitting up a karaoke bar, joining a choir, or belting along to Freddy Mercury in your car, singing can be your ticket to letting go of the day’s stress.
Sarah Pearson is a music therapist working in oncology and palliative care in Kitchener, ON . She is the Program Development Coordinator for the Room 217 Foundation and Lead Facilitator of the Music Care Certificate Program.