In 2018 a group of singing fire personnel took the country by the storm with their ambitions to take on the music industry and secure the elusive Christmas Number One spot with their cover of Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World), with all profits being donated to The Fire Fighters Charity.
While the Fire Tones may have been unlucky in making it to the top spot (we still can’t believe they were beaten by a song about a sausage roll) their legacy lives on, and each year we enjoy singing along with their fantastic cover.
In fact, the groups’ organiser Chris Birdsell-Jones, won our Supporter of the Year: Firefighter at this year’s Spirit of Fire Awards, for his incredible efforts in organising the recording and all the promotion they put into their campaign.
Excuse us for a few minutes while we have a good old singsong with these wonderful members of the fire family as they cover the Christmas classic. Crank up the volume and feel free to join in (and reminisce about pre-social-distancing times!)
Did you feel better for singing along? Well, that’s because singing is proven to be a feel-good activity, with significant health benefits for both our physical and psychological wellbeing. Psychological Therapist Kim Fry is here to explain why.
“Studies have shown that endorphins and oxytocin are released when we sing, two of the feel-good hormones that help to lower stress levels and lift our mood,” says Kim. “Also, because we tend to exhale more slowly when we sing we can feel more relaxed, because regulating our breathing regulates our blood flow. Many people say they feel more positive and confident after singing. Plus it’s a great way to express ourselves.”
Singing can also help us to be more aware of thoughts and emotions, which is so important for our mental wellbeing: “When we’re singing, we have to focus, which means we are more mindful of what we are thinking and feeling in that moment,” says Kim. “This means we are less likely to be distracted by worries or negative thoughts.”
Research also suggests that singing can help improve memory, finding it can be particularly beneficial for people living with dementia: “Having to learn new lyrics and melodies can help to stimulate memory,” says Kim. “The relative of one beneficiary I spoke to, who has dementia and had joined a choir, told me how wonderful it is to feel part of something where they are seen for who they are, rather than someone with dementia.”
As social creatures, singing as part of a group can also be hugely beneficial (even we can only currently do it over video calls due to movement restrictions).
“Connection with others is a really important part of positive mental wellbeing and as an ancient tradition, singing has long been used by many cultures to bring people together,” says Kim. “It can be a great way to bond with others and helps us to connect through a shared enjoyment of music. This sense of connection is particularly important during these challenging times. Although it may not be possible to meet in person at the moment, why not take part in an online carol service or organise a sing-along with friends or family?”
There are also physical benefits to singing as well. The impact of reducing stress in the body can make your immune system function better, which, as the body’s natural defence mechanism, is so important. And for those of you who suffer with asthma, you might also want to give singing a go, as it requires you to develop good breath control, which can regulate your breathing and increase your lung capacity. And even just listening to your favourite music can release dopamine, a hormone that contributes to our sense of happiness.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are, put your camera on mute if you’re feeling self conscious doing it over Zoom!” says Kim. “Or if you prefer to sing solo, put on your favourite tunes and just sing to yourself around the house. But just enjoy all the benefits singing has to offer. It really can lift our mood, relieve stress and make us feel good.”
So whether it’s a free carol concert, your favourite CD, or just playing The Fire Tones on repeat, we hope you enjoy your singsong.
And don’t forget, if something is affecting your daily happiness, talk to us. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820 or make an enquiry online.