It’s hard to feel hopeless when you’re belting your favorite jam.

I threw a big karaoke party with my friends for my 21st birthday. We made about a million cupcakes, set up a stage and lights, and dressed to the nines.

We spent the whole evening singing song after song as solos, duets, and group performances. Even the wallflowers joined in, and the room was a sea of smiling faces.

I loved every minute of it.

I’ve suffered from bouts of depression since I was a teenager and had been going through a low period prior to the party. That evening, I was buzzing with joy. Along with the warm glow of the love of my friends, the singing felt healing.

It’s hard to feel hopeless when you’re belting your favorite jam.

I currently take medication to help stabilize my mood, but I also build habits into my life that support my mental health. I write a gratitude journal, spend time in nature, and try to get regular exercise.

And I sing.

Have you ever felt a rush of positive emotion after a workout? It turns out singing can produce a similar effect.

Although it’s not as intense as some other forms of aerobic exercise, it has the same endorphin-releasing payoff. One study suggests that consciously controlling your breathing engages several areas of the brain, including the part that regulates emotions.

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that singing and other musical activities have a positive effect on well-being. One study found that women with postnatal depression recovered more quickly when they took part in a singing group.

When you perform a song, your mind is focused. It’s hard to think of other things while you concentrate on lyrics and hitting the right notes. Plus, you have to remember to breathe. I’m not surprised that there may be a link between singing and increased mindfulness.

The word “karaoke” comes from the Japanese word for “empty orchestra.” This is fitting, considering I’m mostly singing by myself these days.

I simply search for my favorite songs with the word “karaoke” added in. There are tons of options, whether you’re a country lover, metalhead, or fan of the golden oldies.

Don’t worry about whether your singing is any good. That’s not the point! Imagine you’re the only person in the world, take a deep breath, and go for it. For bonus points, I fully encourage solo dance routines.

Once you feel confident enough, invite your partner, family, or friends to join you. Then you’ll be getting the added positive effect of singing as part of a group.

Try these karaoke gems to get the party going:

“Love Shack” by The B-52’s is a new wave favorite with dance vibes that pretty much anyone can sing (or yell). It’s the perfect post-punk way to get the karaoke party started and get everyone on their feet.

Few songs are as iconic as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and few are as fun to operatically sing as a group. Plus, it’s a great option for celebrating Pride.

No one does it like Aretha. That’s why karaoke enthusiasts have been trying to emulate her from the beginning. “Respect” is a crowd-pleaser and sure to help you find your inner diva.

For a contemporary tune that’s guaranteed to get everyone dancing, “Uptown Funk” is the perfect choice. Family friendly and funky at the same time, this song has plenty of attitude to amp up your performance.

Pro tip

If there isn’t a karaoke version of your song without vocals, try typing “lyrics” after your song title to find the original track as a sing-along.

Another option to get the benefits of singing is to join a choir. You’ll get the advantages of singing and being part of a group. It also gives you a regular fixture on your calendar to help structure your time.

Making music as part of a group has been found to speed up social bonding, increase feelings of closeness, and help support people with mental health conditions.

Even at home, there are plenty of virtual choirs popping up that you can choose from.

There are extra benefits to YouTube karaoke. Choosing songs that remind you of great moments in your life can help you take your mind off current stresses and feel a sense of well-being.

Even if you don’t end up doing much singing, music can still lift you up.

I recently arranged a karaoke party for my mom’s birthday where guests attended via video call. Of course, technology failed us, and our song was completely out of sync.

It was choppy and we couldn’t always hear each other, but we had a great time. Everything devolved into giggles and left us feeling connected, even at a distance.

So the next time you’re feeling blue, grab a hairbrush microphone and sing your heart out.

Molly Scanlan is a freelance writer based in London, UK. She is passionate about feminist parenting, education, and mental health. You can connect with her on Twitter or through her website.