When last did you sing in a choir or have a karaoke night? Research has found that singing makes you happier.

University of East Anglia (UEA) researchers examined the benefits of singing. They found that people who took part in a community singing group maintained or improved their mental health.

Researchers worked in collaboration with the Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) project, based in Norfolk.

The grassroots initiative runs weekly singing workshops, aimed at people with mental health conditions as well as for the general public. Around 120 people attend four free workshops each week across Norfolk.

The research project followed the group for six months and undertook interviews and focus groups with participants, organisers, and workshop leaders.

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Singing for fun

“We found that singing as part of a group contributes to people’s recovery from mental health problems,” says lead researcher Prof Tom Shakespeare from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

He says that the main way that Sing Your Heart Out differs from a choir is that anyone can join in regardless of ability. “There’s also very little pressure because the participants are not rehearsing towards a performance. It’s very inclusive and it’s just for fun.”

Prof Shakespeare says the format is also different to a therapy group because there’s no pressure for anyone to discuss their condition.

Related: A natural route to happiness

Singing saves sanity

“We heard the participants calling the initiative a ‘lifesaver’ and that it ‘saved their sanity’. Others said they simply wouldn’t be here without it, they wouldn’t have managed – so we quickly began to see the massive impact it was having,” says Prof Shakespeare.

“All the participants we spoke to reported positive effects on their mental health as a direct result of taking part in the singing workshops.

He says that for some, it represented one component of a wider programme of support. For others, it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health.

“But the key thing for everyone was that the Sing Your Heart Out model induced fun and happiness.”

Related: A surprising secret to happiness

Structure, support and social contact

The combination of singing and social engagement gave participants a feeling of belonging and wellbeing, as well as improved social skills and confidence.

Taking part on a weekly basis provided structure; support and contact that helped people improve their mood, feel good, and function better in day-to-day life.

So, join a choir or make a weekly karaoke date with friends to make 2018 your happiest year.

Source: University of East Anglia via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.