Next time you feel like flipping the bird or laying on your horn in a fit of atomic road rage, scroll through your Spotify, crank up the volume and belt out the lyrics to your favorite Taylor Swift single. Why? Because you sound as good as she does? Probably not. But you’ll actually live a longer and happier life.
Everyone loves a good sing-a-long behind the wheel, and whether you’re alone or packed in 7-deep, unabashedly singing along in the car helps to reduce stress levels, reduce cortisol in your brain, and often put you in a fantastic mood. Americans spend a reported average of 38 hours a year stuck in traffic—if you’re in DC it’s over 60!—which is way too much time to waste in a terrible frame of mind.
The joy associated with singing is most likely connected to endorphins, a hormone released by the act that gives us feelings of euphoria (hint: it’s the same little guy released by your brain just after you finished a workout, that’s how you know its good!) But that’s not the only happy hormone released by singing. Oxytocin, which has been found to alleviate stress and anxiety, also gets released into the brain. So if you’re ever freaking out while sitting in a traffic jam—and who hasn’t—a good song is the perfect solution to the bumper-to-bumper madness.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Not only does oxytocin relieve stress, it’s also associated with feelings of trust and bonding. That’s why when you sing Christmas carols during the holidays or belt out “Call Me Maybe” with your bros, it feels like you all joined together in one big group hug. Studies show that singing and music was developed as a tool of social living, helping us bind together in groups. Other studies even prove that people’s heart rates may sync up during a group singing, partly due to the controlled breathing necessary to get those notes out. Tell that to your significant other next time you’re ready for a romantic duet!
Ready for the best part? You don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the incredible benefits of all that SANGIN’. Of course, it’s easier on the ears of those in the car next to you if you can sing on pitch, but with the windows down and the radio up it all blends into the mix anyhow.
If you take public transit? Good luck.
Seriously, how fun does this look? So start making your playlists now!
Bet you didn’t know this would help you live longer, huh!