For Depression or Anxiety -- SING!

For Depression or Anxiety -- SING!

Originally published in Your Tango

Isn't that music to your ears?

If you feel anxious, depressed or both and want to know how to treat your anxiety and depression naturally, you're not alone. 

There’s an anxiety crisis in America today. Add to this the fact that over 16 million adults in this country have had at least one major depressive episode, and many others suffer from less severe depression.

Both mental health issues are life-eaters — especially if you can't find a suitable natural treatment that helps alleviate your symptoms. An anxious person is always tense and often distracted. Someone who’s depressed feels like they’re slogging through deep mud all day.

If you've tried everything — from weekly therapy sessions to meditation to a regular exercise schedule — to avail, here’s one more tool to add to your list: Singing.

How can singing your favorite song along to music help treat symptoms of depression and anxiety quickly and naturally?

It’s been well established that music is therapeutic, even if you’re just listening to it. Joyful music raises the spirits and distracts the mind from overthinking. And the rhythm! Our bodies are imbued with rhythm. Our natural movements are rhythmical, and our hearts beat out the tempo of life.

And when you actually make music with your voice, you add several other healing elements, as well.

1. Singing immediately changes your mood.

You can’t sing without opening your mouth and approximating a smile. Smiling, even when you don’t “mean” it, makes you happier. Depressed people slump and look down at their feet. Just try to sing when you’re in that stance! To sing, you have to stand up straight and free up your lungs and your diaphragm.

Anxious people hunch their shoulders and curl inward. Again, just try to sing that way! You must let your shoulders relax and open your chest before you can get a note out.

2. Singing makes you breathe deeply.

Whether you’re slumped or hunched, you’re not getting enough oxygen into your system. When your brain is starved of oxygen, it sends out warning signals: “Danger! Danger!” Not what you need if you’re already worried.

Lack of oxygen also can make you slow and lacking in energy. That's why deep breathing is a key to relaxing and centering techniques, and you can’t really sing without it.

3. Singing is aerobic exercise.

It requires muscular strength and stamina. It involves all the muscles in your torso, and fills you with oxygen. It regulates your metabolism, so that your heart beats stronger. This infuses your entire body with healthy energy.

4. Singing is emotional expression.

Words alone can be powerful, but sometimes there are no words. Music touches inner places that we didn't even know existed.

5. Singing is just plain fun.

There’s a part of our inner ear system that stirs up pleasure — especially at certain decibels — so sing out LOUD! Animal studies show that the song of a courting bird delivers a “hit” similar to that caused by addictive drugs!

6. Singing can connect you with other people.

You can probably get all of the five previous benefits from singing in the shower, especially if you let loose and belt the refrain. You could kick it up a notch, though, by joining a choral group. When you’re singing with others, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. You are surrounded by the music, and by other people. There’s the sense of creating something together. You are part of a tribe who make the world a better place.

So... get enough sleep, eat right, and exercise. Become more aware of your thought patterns, do reality checks, and manage the amount of news you watch. Talk to your therapist and take your medication.

And don't forget to SING!

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