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Science Explains How Singing In The Car Can Boost Your Mental Health

Science Explains How Singing In The Car Can Boost Your Mental Health

Who doesn’t love singing in the car? Whether as a means of livening up the school run, making the commute to work a little less dreary, or kicking off a road trip with a raucous impromptu karaoke session, most of us end up accompanying our favourite singers at least occasionally.

If you consider the number of hours the average person spends in cars every week, you’ll realize that it’s important to extract as much enjoyment from the driving process as possible. What better way than to turn on some great music and exercise those vocal cords? Here’s some awesome news: not only is singing in the car fun, it actually makes you happier and healthier! Read on to find out why singing is so much more than just a fun activity.

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Singing Gives Your Brain A Buzz

When you sing, your brain releases chemicals that give you a natural high. These include the neurotransmitters oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. If you sing along to a song that has especially positive associations or memories for you, then the effect is heightened even further. Yes, that’s right — singing provides you with a natural, free source of positivity whenever you need it! Why not turn on the radio right now?

The physiological reactions triggered by singing can even help people living with chronic pain to cope with their problem. A study published in the Journal Of Music Therapy in 2004 suggests that group singing helps people cope better with ongoing discomfort, although further research is needed. So if you face chronic health problems and feel able to do so, consider not only singing in the car more often, but also joining an organized singing activity or group on a regular basis. You’ll also have the opportunity to make friends, which is an awesome side benefit!

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Singing Is Great For Cardiovascular and Lung Health

When you sing, you make use of your lungs and chest muscles. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a “good singer” — if you are making an effort to sing in tune, you will be giving your heart, lungs, and muscles in your upper body a good workout. This could have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. This benefit could be one reason why those who sing regularly tend to live longer, according to a Yale-Harvard study carried out in 2008.

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.

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Singing With Others Feels Even Better

Humans are, at heart, social animals. As a general rule, what we like to do alone we often enjoy even better with others. If you have ever sung in a choir, you will know how rewarding it can be to sing a song well (or even not so well!) with other people. Even joining together to reach a few high notes feels like a real achievement when you are all sharing in the moment. Research shows that people who sing together become so attuned to one another that their heartbeats synchronize! Plus, a 2002 study published in the journal Psychology Of Music found that even listening to other people sing is enough to provide a mood boost. So, if you feel too shy to sing in front of other people in the car, you can still benefit from just listening.

With all these benefits demonstrated by research, take every opportunity to sing loud and proud whenever you’re in the car, wherever you may be headed! If you can get your friends and family to join you, then so much the better. You’ll all benefit and be smiling by the time you reach your destination.

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Featured photo credit: StockSnap via pixabay.com

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Jay Hill

Freelance Writer

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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