singing through stress

One interesting tidbit of information that I’ve learned as a Music Together teacher is this: Singing reduces cortisol levels in the brain.  Cortisol is the hormone our bodies produce when we’re under stress.  Singing reduces cortisol levels.

In practical terms, it means that singing when you’re feeling stress, no matter why, is going to help you relax.

It works on kids, too, especially babies.  Singing lullabies to babies and children helps them to relax.  One of the founders of Music Together likes to tell how she enjoys singing to crying babies on planes, thereby witnessing the parents’ reactions of amazement when their fussy child magically calms down.  It really does work.

It works in our family, too.  I find that songs work well to ease my girls through transitions, such as getting dressed, getting hands washed, or getting out of a bathtub.  It really helps to have some kind of song, related or unrelated to the action, to sing while you’re doing what needs to be done.  Lately, unsurprisingly to regular readers of this blog, we’ve been singing lots of songs from “The Sound of Music.”

However, I have one specific song that I often use when I need one or both of my daughters to be patient and wait.  It came about when I was telling Jujubee that she needed to wait.  How does one explain to a two and a half year old what it means to wait??  So, I started singing a song I remembered from my childhood:

Be patient, be patient, don’t be in such a hurry,
When you get impatient, you only start to worry.
Remember, remember that God is patient too,
And think of all the times when others had to wait for you.

The theology of the song is slightly lacking in the gospel department, but I use it anyway.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Jujubee has gotten used to being patient as a result of that song.  She still doesn’t seem to understand the concept of waiting, but when I sing that song, she stands quietly and stops whining and … waits.  It’s wonderful.

Certain hymns and religious songs help me through the tough times in my life, too.  A few of the new supplement hymns have that effect on me.  I remember singing “Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled” when I was a part of the Lutheran Chorale, and that one has often come back to me in tough times.  I also really like the new hymn “Sing With All the Saints in Glory.”  It keeps my thoughts focused on the glories of heaven, so that I don’t worry so much about the problems here on earth.  “Day By Day” is also a good one for reminding a person of God’s eternal providence for good.

It’s good to music to help one through the stressful times of life, whether that stress is the unavoidable stress of living in a sin-filled world, or as simple as waiting for Mom to finish something up.

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One thought on “singing through stress

  1. My kids love the “Have Patience” song too – do you know where it’s from? Someone gave us the movie ages ago . . .

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