Why song is so great for your mental health, as 'singing estate agent' goes viral
It's safe to say the now viral video of the 'singing estate agent' has lifted the spirits of the nation.
One very special property listing on Rightmove features a video tour called The Never Ending Property, sung beautifully by Claire Cossey of Just Knock Estate Agents, her own spin on the theme song for the 1984 film The Neverending Story.
It's racked up views online after a Twitter user posted the link to the ad with the caption: "Oh my god. The video."
"I love this woman" they added, while others on the thread commented, "what a modern day hero", "Super voice!" and "In the future all estate agents commitment levels will be judged by this standard."
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But why is the power of song so beneficial for boosting morale and mental health?
Benefits of singing for wellbeing
"Singing is a wonderful example of a mindfulness activity," says Dr Marianne Trent, clinical psychologist and host of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast.
"When we sing it’s tricky to think about anything else and so from that perspective it’s a great way to have a break from the stresses and strains of life."
Trent also explains that evidence has shown singing, especially when done in groups, lowers the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol.
And listeners benefit too, as shown by the positive reaction to the singing estate agent. Plus, doing things differently to the 'norm' can also be beneficial.
"One of the brilliant things about music, songs and jingles is that they can get stuck in our head and increase our attention span for things which might otherwise be a bit mundane," says Trent.
"A little sprinkling of fun also helps with most things!"
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Meanwhile, musical director of Sing United Mark Deeks, aka #ThatPianoGuy, also highlights just how much singing is its own language.
"Singing is obviously one of our oldest forms of communication," he says. "But in fact, there is some current research going on where the working theory is that talking developed from singing, and not the other way around, as we might have imagined."
Deeks says singing in a choir "can multiply the positive impact of singing very quickly, because by becoming part of something much bigger than the individual, it can increase someone’s confidence, reduce anxiety and allow people to be part of something they never thought they could do".
"Even when just at home alone," he adds, "actively engaging with music rather than just having a playlist on in the background, can produce memories of who, what, where and when the song reminds you of, which can be a very powerful tonic for the soul."
Deeks agrees that adding music to an everyday situation – like in the unforgettable property listing – "can be a fantastic way of making it much more memorable".
"We only have to think of how many huge brands have used music in TV adverts to see the impact for ourselves: think of the McDonalds whistle or Go Compare with their opera singer and realise how music can help make a brand come much quicker to mind, and as a result you’re much more likely to consider buying from them," he says.
"And in the case of the singing estate agent, you only have to look at some of the comments to see how by putting herself out there like this she has become much more personable and likeable by injecting some musical fun where you would least expect it."
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Dr. Hana Patel, GP specialist in mental health and GP expert witness, reminds us of the power of song (albeit over zoom) during COVID-19. "Choirs were particularly helpful during the pandemic for people isolated at home alone," she says. "Not only does singing exercise the brain, but it also helps the body to focus on posture and muscles, improve our breathing."
The reason singing in groups can work wonders, she adds, is because, "We also exercise our engagement socially, leading to increased satisfaction and improving our mood and social health by interacting with others.
"Research has shown that actively participating – i.e. singing together with others – rather than listening to music, increases our mood, due to in part the release of brain chemicals being released, like dopamine and serotonin."
Patel adds, "Plus, it's also a cheap and easy way to engage socially."
Time to sign up for that choir.
Watch: How can I improve my mental health?