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Singing for anxiety is a topic very relevant nowadays. As we all know, we are going through a hard time right now with the coronavirus still affecting us worldwide. A lot of us have been or still are in lockdown.
I want to talk today about how this affects our voice, and also how we can use our voice to help us get through this time more easily.
Today after 2 weeks of lockdown (writing this on April 2020), I couldn’t help but realize that my anxiety levels have raised dramatically. My breathing became really shallow, and I started eating whatever I could find to calm myself.
When I realised this, I started taking action. External circumstances do have an impact in our emotions, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any power over it. As soon as I noticed how my wellbeing and my voice were being affected by my new anxiety, I started to do all that I could to make it better, within my lockdown status. I went for a run, I walked in nature opening my arms as I breathed in, I purposely slowed down my breathing and tried to make it deeper, I did joint releasing exercises, etc.
I was in a supermarket the other day (supermarkets are still open) and I noticed again how short and shallow my breathing had become. I tried to understand what was causing it, and I observed that in addition to the anxiety caused by the fear that the unknown brings, we were all literally scared to breathe. Everyone with face masks, and everyone turning their face away from each other. I had to stop and tell myself that it is OK to breathe. We can’t live without breathing air, so stop thinking it is NOT a good idea.
Anxiety is an emotion that expresses itself in the body by shortening your breathing and making it more shallow. This is not good news for your voice!
Whether you use your voice for singing or speaking, your air is its fuel. If you want to have a fully functioning voice, you have to give it the fuel it needs.
Also, when your breathing is shallow, you suddenly lose the air support that you need in order to have a strong and free voice.
If you find that the current situation has also impacted you with anxiety and this has affected your voice, there are things you can do to make it better. To name a few (all of which I have tried successfully):
In singing and in life, I like to always see the possibilities that every situation brings. Well, sometimes it takes me a bit of complaining before I even try, to be honest! But eventually I always can find something positive.
And the coronavirus is not the exception! Obviously we all want it to be over, but let’s take a minute to see how we can use this situation in a way that helps us.
If you are also in lockdown, you have probably noticed something that is really clear everywhere. Everyone is feeling their emotions more intensively. We have nowhere to escape. Is only us with our emotions, and a couple of other people. Suddenly the sadness is felt more intensively, the anxiety, the fear, but also the love and the compassion. Suddenly we feel emotions we didn’t know we could feel. For a lot of people, they went from being completely asleep and unaware to discovering that they do care about other people, even people that they don’t know. Suddenly we remember what the important things in life are. Suddenly so many problems don’t seem so important anymore. Well, except when we panic buy everything and forget about other people who also need to buy groceries! But let’s focus on the positive.
Also, the fact that we are all in the same boat makes this a collective experience. We are united now and the empathy and compassion has grown.
I personally think that this means growth as humanity altogether. But this is still a voice and singing blog so let’s focus on that!
As I said before, this situation has been for many people an experience that intensified their emotions, whatever those emotions are. Suddenly you miss your partner with more intensity. Suddenly your fear is stronger. Suddenly you appreciate more of the little things. Use this opportunity to really connect with the songs you like to sing, or the songs you want to learn. Dare to explore them and really understand the emotion behind it. You will find that once you understand them and connect with them from an emotionally deep level, suddenly the technique magically becomes easier. The voice knows where to go, because you know and feel what you want to express.
As our emotions grow, so does the need to express them. Use songs to help you direct and release energy so it helps you go through this moment with more ease.
This whole situation has taught us many things. For sure one of them is that we should not take things for granted! it seems now like everything we have can be taken away from us. With nothing to lose, is it really the time to be careful, to be shy, to care about what others say? Sing like there is no tomorrow!! I used to have a singing teacher whom I admired deeply. She is a well known singer in Argentina and for very good reasons. I do not remember almost anything at all from her teachings, but I do remember one thing that she told me one day and that I often repeat to myself: whatever you do, do it as if it was the last time you’ll do it. She lives life this way and you can tell from the passion and joy she brings every time she opens her mouth or every time she is simply present.
Finally we have time to practice!!!! With no excuses 🙂
It might be an awesome opportunity for you to share your voice with other people in your “bubble”, if you have the chance to do that. With my younger online students I am seeing how more involved their parents are in their practice now that they are at home more. And we even started a band with my flatmates! Playing music with others, even if it is simply singing a song together, not only helps you to be a better musician. It also helps you bond and connect with people from a deep level, and at the same time it helps you build important skills for life.
This is also a great chance to finally remember the reasons why you wanted to sing at all. In most cases, it is because it brings us joy and happiness. Something that we sometimes forget when we get caught in the technique part of the process. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Use this time to sing the songs you like, the ones that bring you joy and happiness! We should make this a habit too!
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