Tuesday 22 October 2019

Best way to to beat a stressful job? Join a workplace choir

Orla Gargan, musical director of the Dublin Gospel Choir
Orla Gargan, musical director of the Dublin Gospel Choir
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The best way to beat a stressful job and bring some harmony into your life may be to join a workplace choir.

A new study of staff in the HSE has found that many of its workers have discovered an antidote to the tensions of dealing with the trolley crisis and hospital pressures by hitting the high notes with colleagues in one of the many choirs they have formed across the country.

It showed how choirs can increase a person's positive perception of mental health and ease depression.

A choir can also have the benefit of promoting social connectedness among employees and even lead to more enjoyment of work and staff engagement.

"Involvement in a workplace choir offered HSE staff members an opportunity to meet people in a non-work environment," said the researchers Hilary Moss and Jessica O'Donoghue.

"Regular rehearsal was a prioritised social activity with an opportunity for social connectedness and interaction," the findings in 'Health Promotion International' showed.

It also acted as a leveller with conversations between cleaners, doctors, healthcare assistants and directors.

Some spoke of the "positive energy" it generated and the sharing that goes with working towards a concert or competition.

"Staff choirs have great potential as team building exercises. Performing on stage was for many participants a risk-taking activity, trying something new and pushing oneself outside their comfort zone."

Singing in a choir lifted the mood of many of the participants. "There are benefits across the board for me - physical, emotional, social - I pull out all the stops to make it to the choir. As a nurse I know there are respiratory benefits, expanding oxygen intake, exercise during choir practice. My posture improves from singing and standing straight," one said.

Orla Gargan, musical director of the Dublin Gospel Choir and the Dublin Social Choir, who has supported choirs in Vodafone and other companies, said people should not be put off if they feel they are not a good singer. "Anyone can sing in a choir. It's about how the group tunes into each other. It provides a safe environment. You can be part of the chorus. The moment it all comes together is a magical one."

Irish Independent

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