Love to be part of the choir singing Christmas carols? Singing in groups could not only make you happier, but also help improve mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, according to new research.
The finding showed that people who took part in a community singing group maintained or improved their mental health.
Community singing had positive effects on people's mental health, while for some it was a key to their recovery or maintenance of health, for others it induced fun and happiness.
Moreover, the combination of singing and socialising was an essential part of recovery because it promoted an ongoing feeling of belonging and well-being that often lasted a day or more as well as improved social skills and confidence.
"We found that singing as part of a group contributes to people's recovery from mental health problems," said lead researcher Tom Shakespeare, Professor at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
For the study, published in the BMJ journal Medical Humanities, the team analysed participants who took part in the Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) project -- an initiative which runs weekly singing workshops, aimed at people with mental health conditions as well as the general public.
The research project followed the group for six months and undertook interviews and focus groups with participants, organisers, and workshop leaders.
Taking part on a weekly basis provided structure, support and contact that helped people improve their mood, feel good, and function better in day-to-day life.
"We heard the participants calling the initiative a 'life saver' and that it 'saved their sanity'. Others said they simply wouldn't be here without it, they wouldn't have managed - so we quickly began to see the massive impact it was having," Shakespeare said.