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Finding your voice

Working as a nurse in primary care isn't all fun and frolics - it can be very stressful, both physically and mentally. But Sue Spencer has come up with a novel solution that may improve your health and state of mind …

This is the first time I have been asked to write a blog and I have no idea what I will write or if I'll have anything to say. I agreed to take part as I aspire to be a writer and I saw it as an opportunity to be put under a bit of pressure. Over the last couple of years the more I have thought about writing the more I have found excuses not to sit down and actually get on with it!

I am a university lecturer in the North East of England and as a member of the NiP editorial team for the last six years, I have been in the privileged position to read and contribute to the issues concerning primary/community nursing. In my day job I teach across a range of disciplines but my heart is in community healthcare and the support of practitioners working outside hospital settings. As I have witnessed the relentless changes in primary/community healthcare over the last few years the more I have become convinced that systems need to be in place to support and protect practitioners from the stresses and strains of providing health/nursing care in an increasingly hostile environment.

So I have decided that the focus for much of my blog will be different approaches to supporting/protecting yourselves and how these can be life enhancing as well as fun. I believe that if your organisations promoted/provided some of these approaches it wouldn't cost them very much and would reduce sickness levels and increase morale.

The first one I want to share with you is singing - yes singing. I can hear you all saying that you can't sing, that at school you were put at the back of the school choir and told to mime, that the only time you sing is in the shower and that your partner/kids tell you to keep it there.

Well I'm here to tell you that that ain't necessarily so. A few weeks ago I went to a conference at the Sage in Gateshead and participated in a wonderful day all about how singing is good for you and how everyone can find a voice and reap the benefits. There is increasing evidence that singing, particularly in a group or choir, has significant health benefits, such as:

  • Increased respiratory capacity (it's good for your lungs).
  • Better posture - to optimise good breathing and sound production you need to sit/stand up straight.
  • Increased stamina and energy.
  • Stronger immune system (fewer coughs and colds).
  • Improved circulatory system.
  • Reduction in stress levels.
  • Mood enhancement.
  • Improved memory.
  • Increased levels of concentration.

And it is great fun. So what do you do about it? Well if you already sing find local people who promote singing and health and find out what they are up to and get involved. If you don't sing and think you can't look out for workshops in your area that promote community singing and go along. You'd be surprised what might happen. Many local authorities are promoting singing and its health benefits and there may well be initiatives in your area! Once you have found them talk to the powers that be to pilot a project in the workplace and see what happens next.

I may be in cloud cuckooland but I really believe it would make a difference!