You’ve probably experienced the euphoria of hopping in the car after a long day of work, turning up your favorite tune and singing along like you’re performing at the Grammys. But you might not realize that it’s actually good for your health.
Music alone can increase antibodies that boost your immunity and protect your body against bacteria. And according to experts, singing and driving can lead to a bunch of feel-good mental health effects, too. Here’s how:
It can stimulate your mind and alleviate stress or depression symptoms.
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Psychologists have long known there are perks to singing, but more information is continuing to emerge: A global 2017 study of more than 1,700 choir members found that singing in a group improved a person’s well-being because it created social connection and cognitive stimulation.
Kelley Kitley, a psychotherapist based in Chicago, said she has experienced the benefits firsthand. When she’s transitioning from working with clients all day to coming home to her husband and four kids, she finds her daily practice of singing in the car to be an incredible stress release.
“It used to be a ritual for me to home and pour a glass of wine,” Kitley said. “So when I got sober six years ago, I needed to replace that with something positive. I love music and singing along, it totally energizes me.”
It’s not only made Kitley’s solo commute more enjoyable, but car rides with the whole family have turned into a more relaxing experience. Plus, it provides a fun alternative for people who don’t like meditating and other forms of stress management, she said.
“There’s usually some discrepancy in song choice, but it’s really fun,” Kitley said. “Especially because we’re in the car so much. I recommend it to my clients as much as I do yoga or meditation.”
Connie Omari, a licensed professional counselor practicing in North Carolina and owner of Tech Talk Therapy, said she also suggests singing and driving to her patients. The practice can be its own form of meditation and can help to quiet a racing mind.
“By listening to music, drivers are permitted with an opportunity to replace negative thoughts with more positiveness through the use of rhythm and beats,” she said. “It invites an opportunity to meditate.”
And because driving alone for long periods of time can have negative effects (some research has found it increases the risk of depression), Omari said singing and driving on a regular basis can help to slightly alleviate some of those issues.
“Driving is so mundane and routine for most people, that if left unchecked, the quietness of the ride can consume your thoughts,” Omari said.