Why singing in lockdown is so good for our mental health

As part of the Strictly Come Dancing band, Hayley Sanderson has made her career from singing – and she’s now urging everyone to start belting out their favourite tunes in lockdown in order to make themselves feel better.

Sanderson, who appears on web series Up Close And Socially Distant, told host Kate Thornton that singing is therapeutic for everyone – no matter how good your voice is.

“Even if you can't sing, it's still fun,” she said. “It just connects you in a different way to your body, your thoughts, your mind, everything. It all just comes together. It's something you should do!”

She continued: “I think if you want to sing, you should just sing. Singing's not for one person. It's for everybody. In the olden days, before television and pop stars, people sang as families to entertain each other. You can sing to learn a new skill, gain confidence, become really proud of your own sound.”

Sanderson has been putting her own talents to good use while in lockdown by working with survivors of domestic violence to record a charity cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Stronger’.

Alongside other vocal coaches, including The X Factor’s Annie William and The Voice’s Lucy Potterton, she helped coach the Bede House Choir in readiness for the recording, which she was said was difficult to organise while being separated from everyone.

“They had to record on to their phones or whatever tablets or things they might have had around,” she explained.

“It's really hard to schedule in these rehearsals, you know, without someone screaming in the other room or a window. Some of the recordings had birds on! It was quite complicated to try and pull this together.”

All proceeds from the single are raising money for local and national domestic violence charities, Bede House and Women’s Aid, and Sanderson said she believes learning to sing has given the abuse survivors some really useful skills for living through this crisis.

“They've learnt new skills, they've learnt to use their voice,” she told Thornton. “They've learnt to be heard. These are massive skills anyone can use, but I think in this particular circumstance, it's been perfect.”

“When you sing, you have to breathe very differently to how you speak. You can get panicked when you're talking, but if you've got to sing a song, you have time to take a breath.”

The Strictly Come Dancing singer, who’s spent lockdown with her husband and young daughter, said the pared-back version of Britney Spear’s Stronger was the perfect song for these women to sing.

Sanderson said: “I think the reason this song was perfect is because the lyrics address the past, but also the future - the fact that we can be stronger together.

“It's that thing of camaraderie and all these women coming together. They're using their voice because they want other people, who might be in these situations, to hear them.”

To donate visit, https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/bedehousechoir

Up Close And Socially Distant is hosted by Kate Thornton and features weekly video catch-ups with people who are all doing whatever they can to help those around them get through lockdown.

This week Kate speaks to England Lioness, Jill Scott, MBE, about how her football challenges are keeping children active in lockdown, to Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, Dr Nikki Kanani, and to Strictly Come Dancing singer, Hayley Sanderson, about her work with Women’s Aid and Bede House to help raise the voices of survivors domestic abuse.