Welp, this was unexpected: According to researchers at the University of East Anglia, singing Christmas carols actually does bring hope and joy. They found that people with mental health conditions — including anxiety and depression — who took part in a community singing group maintained or improved their mental health, concluding that singing and socializing are essential parts of recovery because they promoted an ongoing feeling of belonging and wellbeing.
Damn it. You win this round, carolers.
To come to this conclusion, lead researcher Tom Shakespeare (of course that’s his name) worked in collaboration with the Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) project, a grassroots initiative that hosts weekly singing workshops. Shakespeare and his fellow researchers followed the group for six months, undertaking interviews and focus groups with participants, organisers and workshop leaders.
“All of the participants we spoke to reported positive effects on their mental health as a direct result of taking part in the singing workshops,” Shakespeare said in a press release. “For some it represented one component of a wider programme of support. For others it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health.”
The report shows that the combination of singing and socializing on a weekly basis provides structure, support and contact that helped those involved improve their mood and function better in day-to-day life.
So maybe don’t kick the carolers off your lawn this year — join them, instead.
A few other things we learned about our bodies today: