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While we often hear about the importance of mental wellbeing, focus is leaning toward coping strategies.
What I find interesting is the use of the word cathartic in association with stress relief processes, and incredibly varying outworking for everyone.
For example, I find it cathartic sitting by a log fire and watching and listening to the flames, but this is not always ideal or possible.
In contrast, some coping strategies such as journaling, blogging or listening to music are more accessible and as helpful. I mention these because it is not uncommon to use music in caring for those with cognitive impairments and psychological or emotionally distress.
Why then do we not always take the time to do so for ourselves? Mindfulness techniques, exercise and use of art or poetry are quite common, however at university recently, there was an event which involved socialising, songwriting and singing.
I found the warm-up exercises quite relaxing and then hearing the professionals tell their stories and sing their own songs was inspiring. I found the process before even putting pen to paper quite cathartic and it surprised me in its simplicity and accessibility. Nursing itself calls upon the need for reflexivity and this process embodies just that, while also providing an outlet.
In the short time spent with these inspiring people I was struck by the therapeutic nature of the process, without deliberately treating it as such. This is performed with young people regularly and found to have profoundly positive effects. The young people who attend these sessions open up in ways they would not normally in a safe and relaxed environment.
It breaks down barriers and helps with mental wellbeing, while also having a social aspect. Evidence has shown this to be helpful in many settings with a variety of people and groups. If this were included and promoted during pre- and post-registration for nurses, surely it could only be a positive addition and an alternative to the already growing list of coping strategies?
Imagine when things get tough, being able to write it down lyrically then sign or hum it? Not only putting pen to paper as a positive, but voicing it in a safe non-intrusive manner that could be private or shared.
“Perhaps somebody reading this will be inspired and start a trend”
There appears to be a rise in community and social choir or singing groups. Some are specifically for those with cognitive impairments, carers, for others seeking emotional and mental support and even in some cases, simply for the socialisation to combat loneliness. The many stories shared speak to the incredible benefits of singing are many.
I wonder why, when encouraged at university to start, run or join a society, we do not have one dedicated to singing and songwriting for wellbeing or even a society dedicated specifically to mental health, coping, self-care and wellness. Perhaps I’ve missed an opportunity. I know it’s not too late, but perhaps somebody reading this will be inspired and start a trend.
This event was open to all nursing students and staff, irrespective of whether we could sing. I certainly would not call myself a singer, but I thoroughly enjoyed the occasion and gave it a go.
I liked how inclusive it was, there were a variety of us ranging in gender, age, race, ethnicity, profession, singing ability, background and status (I’ve probably missed a few).
In my opinion it would even appeal to the introverts out there – coming together with peers and colleagues who were all there for the same reason and had fun together. I’m sure I even held a half decent note or two.
I blog and occasionally journal because I find writing stuff helps, but this has left me wondering what if I put it to song? I have also found listening to music very helpful during difficult times, so imagine combining two of my coping mechanisms. Why not? I could give it a go and have nothing to lose.
Why has it taken me so long to consider its benefits for me and imagine the benefits I could have reaped in the past two years of my nurse training, especially when things have been tough? After all, I love singing in Sunday worship at church, so why is this any different?
It really does seem obvious to me now and is a journey that excites me. Perhaps it’s another avenue to inspire, share experiences and make a difference.