"Singing Shrinks": Singing Easy: How Soul Plumbers Cope with Stress

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Berlin / Oldenburg (dpa) - A dreary, rainy autumn evening, the streets in Berlin-Mitte: swept largely empty. A group of psychologists and psychiatrists do not seem to care about this weather.

In the best of moods, they always and repeatedly sang passages from Joe Dassin's 60s hit "Aux Champs Elysées". It's Monday night and rehearsal of a very special choir: the "Singing Shrinks" or also: the "Singing Soul Plumber".

"We are the only choir in the world consisting of psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists," says founder Mazda Adli on the verge of rehearsal in an old lecture hall ruin on the Charité site. Certainly? "At least nobody has ever contradicted me," assures the 49-year-old psychiatrist. Although there are numerous medical ensembles - such as the World Doctors Orchestra - but a chorus of people who "treat the brain" - that is unique.

For 18 years, the plumbers have been singing together, led by three professionals. The group performs at jubilee celebrations or even at congresses. The repertoire: a genre mix with songs from the Weimar Republic to pop songs by Coldplay. The troupe mostly occurs in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. After all, "When we travel, senior physicians are also missing in many hospitals in Berlin," says Adli.

The hobby singers are not at all interested in the big tours. For many, singing is above all one thing: coping with stress. Because they are dealing with people in exceptional situations. With patients who suffer from schizophrenia, depression or anxiety disorders. Or people who are in serious psychological crisis. In addition, there are research, administrative tasks and discussions with relatives, offices, police and colleagues.

«I have to clear many mental fires in my profession. It's important to know how to provide effective recovery, "says stress researcher Adli. «Singing is healthy for body and soul. It relaxes and relaxes the muscles, the stress hormones level up and positive emotions are activated ». He could still be so stressed and stressed: "As soon as I sing in the choir, everything is forgotten," he says.

Researchers have discovered that when singing in chorus oxytocin, the so-called cuddly hormone, as well as the classic happiness hormones, endorphins, are released. In addition, when singing immunoglobulin is formed - that is: singing strengthens the body's defenses.

For Tom Bschor, one of the leading German depression researchers, singing is in the choir "Burnout-Prohylaxe". "You find your middle. If an appointment fails for me, I'm missing something, "says the head physician of the psychiatric department in the Schlosspark-Klinik Charlottenburg. The choir is also a great community. "We are friends and also exchange our professional lives," said Bschor, who has been involved from the beginning.

The musicologist and author Gunter Kreutz («Why singing makes happy») confirms these experiences. «Singing is psychologically very good. There are endless reports that singers feel refreshed, strengthened and relaxed after a choir rehearsal, "says the professor at the University of Oldenburg. For about 20 years lay choirs have been increasingly in the interest of science. Studies have also shown that singing in the choir is also a meditative experience. "You come to yourself and become more attentive in dealing with yourself and the environment," says Kreutz.

Exact numbers on how many people sing in choirs, there is not, according to the German Choral Association. The number of affiliated choirs is around 60,000. In addition, there would be company choirs, school choirs and choirs of the independent scene, whose numbers were nowhere systematically recorded, says spokeswoman Nicole Eisinger. "From our experience and observations, however, this is precisely an area that is receiving increasing attention", says Eisinger with regard to the latter. "In addition, the completely informal sing-along formats such as the" I-don't-sing-choir "from Berlin, the Rudelsingen or big sing-along stadium events are booming", adds Eisinger.

The Berlin choirmaster Sven Ratzel looks after six ensembles, including the "Seelenklempner". "Every choir is special, when a group has such an identity, that's fine," he says, referring to the collective professional background of the Singing Shrinks.

The psychiatric choir has its origins in the adoption of a clinic director, for whom Adli and colleagues sang a serenade 18 years ago. "It was so much fun that we continued," says Adli. The rehearsal date was not chosen randomly. «The assembly is particularly stressful in everyday clinical routine. Now you do not have Sunday blues any more, because on Monday is choir rehearsal. »

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