Updated: Oct 21, 2021
As well as being fun, moving and grooving are scientifically proven ways to look after your mental health! YAY! In 2013, psychologists at the University of Orebro asked a group of teenagers who suffered from anxiety, depression and/or stress to take dance classes 2 times a week and monitor how they felt. What the psychologists found was a significant improvement in the mental well-being of the teens!
Movement, Music and Mental Health
Dancing fires up multiple parts in our brain, including the frontal lobe, the basal ganglia and the cerebellum, which control over 600 muscles. This interaction between multiple areas of the brain and muscles creates a full body awareness that can be significant for those who feel “disconnected” or “separate” from themselves and others. In an ever-changing world, humans are drawn to form and order. Dancing to the rhythm and the beat of music creates synchronisation and patterns that satisfy the human brain’s need for order. Dancing choreographed moves to the rhythm of the music is a fulfilling activity that gives our brains something it craves but does not attain from most of our everyday activities.
The Social Side
Dancing alone in your bedroom can definitely give your brain that burst of feel good endorphins, but the social side of dancing as part of a group or class actually has more of a lasting impact on our well-being. Attending regular classes in a supportive environment can help to build social skills, foster teamwork, develop trust and co-operation skills, and make new lasting friendships. It is important to connect with people outside of work or school, and engaging with those who share the same interest in dance can create a sense of community. To belong and to feel part of something are essential for humans to be happy!
No matter how much good dancing can do for your mental health, it can all be thwarted if the environment in which you dance is not supportive or if your self-talk is negative. Be aware of the messages that you may be hearing from classmates, teachers and even yourself - if you are dancing as a feel-good activity, then you do not need criticism from others or yourself! Pull yourself up when you hear your own negative self-talk and remind yourself that dancing isn't about how you look, but instead about how you feel. You can rewire your self-talk patterns with this technique over time! Remember that the only person you should be dancing for is yourself, and you do not have to look a certain way when you are dancing.
Limited Edition Dance At LED in Cleveland, we see first-hand the positive impacts of dancing in an encouraging and uplifting space. If you know someone who may be stressed, having negative thoughts or just feeling overwhelmed and out of place - dance classes may be the thing that they need to light them up or the chance they need to breathe again. Share the power of dancing with them!