Please welcome to the blog, Rachel James! She is a fellow blogger out of the UK who kindly put together a few important reminders for all of us dance enthusiasts. The topic of this article may seem obvious to us, but obvious benefits can be easily taken for granted. Also, what is obvious to us is not obvious to all. So help spread the word! Let everyone know about the wonderful and amazing mental health benefits of dance.
If you’re feeling stressed, try to dance away the blues because it provides plenty of mental health benefits. A scientific review on music and dance revealed that participating in dance classes can improve well-being and overall health across cultures and age groups. And a few examples of mood-boosting dances include ballroom dancing, belly dancing, and tango.
Learning about this puts a smile on my face, especially since my mother experienced improvements in her mental health after attending ballroom dance classes. Every time we picked her up from the studio, she would be smiling from ear to ear! Gone were the days when she’d sit silently on the sofa watching TV all afternoon.
This proves that dance is not just a great physical exercise, but it can also improve your well-being. And in line with this, here are a few ways dancing can transform your mental health.
Dancing helps improve your self-esteem
There are many ways dance can improve your self-esteem and confidence. For one, the exercise can tone your muscles and make you more confident in your body. And after practicing for a long time, you might even feel a sense of accomplishment when you master a number of dance moves. Essentially, the more you devote time to dancing, the more you’ll improve your skillset and recall. And as you do, you will feel more comfortable with the movements as your own ability.
That brings us to yet another way dance can boost your self-esteem. It can make you feel more open to expressing yourself in front of others. Katie describes this in her article entitled “Learning to Trust My Power”, where she shared that dance helped her realize that her abilities are powerful. Through the craft, she learned how to trust in her skills and her potential as a dancer. Similarly, you can experience breakthroughs in your self-esteem by working on your dancing skills.
Dancing eases depressive or anxious feelings
Recognizing its mental health benefits, professionals recommend dance as therapy for individuals with depression or anxiety. These mental health illnesses are serious conditions, so you’ll still need to consult with licensed therapists. You can also work with medical professionals with a doctor of nursing qualification to get a more holistic approach to mental healthcare. Their specializations as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners makes them qualified to diagnose conditions and recommend treatment options, like dance therapy.
These dance therapy sessions are headed by master’s-level clinicians who use movement to heal and harmonize the mind, body, and spirit. Being guided through the process by professional dance therapists, you can express and process emotions that are difficult to verbalize. This nonverbal interaction activates your mirror neuron system to encourage the development of empathy and understanding, which aids in reducing anxious and depressive symptoms.
Dancing relieves stress
While challenging dance types like the foxtrot can be a source of stress in itself, your hard work will be rewarded with therapeutic benefits. For instance, mastering the Argentine tango can take a lot of work, but a research study also highlights that it can improve the mental health of patients with chronic diseases. They discovered that individuals who danced the Argentine tango had decreased cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. And after finishing their dance classes, the participants of the study reported that they felt more relaxed.
It can be rewarding to master challenging dance moves. However, you can also relieve your stress through other types of dance. After all, dance is also a form of exercise that can help release endorphins. Once your body releases these feel-good hormones, you will experience feelings of pleasure, which then boost your well-being. So, as your body decreases your cortisol levels and releases endorphins, you’ll start to feel less stressed after dancing.
Dancing can improve your mental health in many ways. By engaging in the practice, you can experience improvements in your self-esteem, health conditions, and even your stress levels. So, not only is dancing fun, but extremely beneficial, too. I know — I’ve seen it in the way my mom carries herself.
Rachel is a part-time writer, part-time hobbyist. She enjoys arts and crafts as well as spending time with her family. When not taking her mom to dance class, she is writing her first novel.
Exclusively for THE GIRL WITH THE TREE TATTOO