Use Singing to Soothe Anxiety

Singing can soothe anxiety and other negative emotions.

With so much going on in the world these months, no wonder that some of us feel a bit anxious at times. Here’s how to use your voice to shift from a state of worry, anxiety or fear to feeling calm and content.

When old fears make a come-back

So there I was. Leaving Ireland in a storm on a turbulent airplane. My three year-old son – who was well used to travelling – got scared. He was afraid that the airplane would fall down. My old fear of flying popped up again, and while I calmed down my son, my heart was beating fast. “Airplanes are just like birds,” I explained. “They don’t fall down.”
Off he went to sleep, and I had a moment to reconnect and calm my whole system down…

At that moment, I learned something interesting that deepened my understanding of singing and the power it holds.

Here’s the gold: When you inhale, you give energy to your body. When you exhale, you relax your body. That means that you can relax your body and mind by exhaling slowly.
And that’s exactly what you do when you sing.

The starting point

The first key to effectively deal with your emotions and empower yourself is to understand your starting point.
How is your state of mind?
Are you feeling anxious, sad, energetic, creative, at peace, content or happy?
Perhaps you’ve been on alert mode for too long or maybe you’ve been doing for a long time, and now you need a break from all the action.
Either way, it’s vital for feeling well and happy that you give yourself some time to just be. When you tap into the state of being, feeling whole, content and connected with other people will come naturally.
Being means that you are connected to your heart, and thus fear, anxiety and other negative emotions naturally fall away.

Sing yourself calm

Now back to the airplane, the anxiety and the singing!
As soon as I got a moment, I started breathing in more slowly and exhaling slowly. The only issue was that it just took the worst out of the situation, but it didn’t make me much calmer. So I started humming.
And at that moment it dawned on me that singing is the most brilliant tool in the world when it comes to feeling good because you work with the exhalation.
Singing simply calms down the whole body and gets the endorphins going.

I sat there singing a couple of my favorite Vaccai exercises and within about 5 minutes, my anxiety had gone down from 8 to 2 – to disappear altogether.
It is superior to anything I’ve tried before, because the tone vibration is good for the body and the fact that you’re singing a melody gets the mind to focus and come back on track. Back to the now.

I highly encourage you to try singing the next time you feel worried or anxious and see for yourself what a difference it makes.

Exercises for calming down

  • Breathe in while you count (to any number that feels comfortable)
    Breathe out while you count (to any number that feels comfortable)
    Lengthen your breath a bit, especially the exhalation.
    If it feels right for you, imagine that you are inhaling and exhaling golden white light.
    Continue breathing like this for about 5 minutes, and see if you notice any difference.
  • Breathe as you would normally, or if you’re anxious, start from where you are.
    Start humming. Don’t think about breathing in, your body will take care of that automatically.
    You can hum any song that comes to your mind, but if you experience anxiety in particular situations (e. g. in a waiting room or on an airplane), you can have a couple of songs ready to go. You may need to search for some music that speaks to your heart.
    Keep humming until you feel calm and settled.
  • If you’re looking for zen, sit down in an undisturbed place and do the tone meditation

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
© Photo by Ben Cheung

Feel free to leave questions / comments.

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