Dedicating yourself to the art of singing is one of the ultimate acts of self care. Science has shown us that singing makes us happier, less stressed, more energized and it has been shown to boost immunity and have the same heart health benefits as a yoga practice. The best singers, professional and amateur alike, do all of the following as a result of their commitment to learning how to sing:
Taking care of the physical and emotional body as top priority.
As singers, our instrument is our body, and if we are under physical or emotional stress our instrument is immediately impacted and we become ineffective. The most basic self care practices like a regular sleep schedule, eating well, hydration, and rest are important for everyone, but for those who sing and teach singing we can't do our job without prioritizing these practices each and every day. Those of us who have dedicated our careers to professional singing work are, in a way, getting paid to take care of ourselves - what a blessing!
Practicing mindfulness as a central element of singing.
Mindfulness is a buzz word that is popping up all over the place nowadays. It has been proven a highly effective way to address mental, emotional and physical health issues. The best singers and singing teachers are practicing mindfulness all the time, whether or not they call it that, because they are paying their undivided attention to what is happening in their bodies and minds as they sing.
Take deep breaths.
As a singing teacher, I find that I have to teach almost every student I encounter how to breathe. Most adults and children forget that when we breathe in our bellies should go out and be relaxed. Our society is filled with strained, rigid breathing because we are so often in fight or flight mode. If everyone learned how to sing it would address this issue with ease.
Address, heal and release mental, physical and emotional tension.
As I mentioned earlier, singing has been scientifically proven by countless studies to improve our mental, emotional and physical well being. For most of my students (and myself) singing has helped improve overall health because we cannot successfully sing without facing down our demons. All the places where we are stuck, injured, traumatized, exhausted, and tender become painfully obvious and inescapable when we sing. If we want to continue singing and enjoy doing it we have to heal those old wounds.
Through singing, we learn to love and accept ourselves.
Singing and dancing are the two rawest, most vulnerable forms of self expression. Many of us have loud, relentless inner critics that come to the forefront when we expose our true selves through singing, and this self aversion was likely created by criticisms that came from our teachers, peers, and loved ones. When you get to the point where you can sing without fear, feel good in your body and enjoy your voice it is one of the deepest experiences of self love and acceptance I think we can encounter as humans.
If you do not have a singing practice in your life, consider adding one. Perhaps you hear the words "you should try singing" and you are filled with conflicting feelings of self doubt, fear, curiosity and excitement - in that case, find a teacher who can help you address your limiting beliefs about yourself and help you find the beautiful voice that you DO possess!