The benefit of dance for mental wellbeing
Dancing prompts an increased level of endorphins in comparison to other forms of exercise
Written by Deepa Mani
We all know the need for exercise to improve our fitness and overall wellbeing. Thinking about exercise can be off-putting to so many of us because we tend to associate it with discipline, regimen, pain and exhaustion.
Instead, have you ever thought of movement, as a substitute for exercise and fitness?
This could help change the way you look at things. One of the most natural, beautiful and fun ways to incorporate movement in your life is through dance.
The connection between brain and body
We all intuitively know our emotions and feelings influence our movements, but is it as obvious that our movements can influence our feelings?
The connection between the brain and body is a two-way street, our movements influence our feelings and wellbeing just as much as our emotions influence our movement.
Moving one’s body through dancing of any kind is a great way of incorporating movement in our everyday life, helping us stay fit, sharpen our minds, and reduce stress.
Dancing empowers individuals achieve emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration, helping us to improve our self-awareness and self-esteem. It is one of the most wonderful and instinctive ways humans can share ideas and communicate how they feel. Through dance we tap into a space that allows us to nurture and develop the intimate connection between the mind and body, in ways which are positive, creative and unique.
Dance to reduce your stress hormones
Did you know that if you synchronise a set of movements or steps with a few friends it increases endorphins and reduces cortisol (a stress hormone)? This works to improve your overall mental wellbeing.
Give it a go for yourself...
Good for the mind and body
Nothing exercises your grey matter like coordinating your brain and body.
When we (young and old) dance, we not only get artistic expression but also enjoy other key benefits such as:
Dance heightens one’s mental ability and cognitive thinking. Dancing is all about absorbing, retaining and executing information. These three when done in a cyclic motion improves mental dexterity helping us absorb, hold information better and think on our feet (pun intended). Dancing also requires mental, physical, emotional and spatial awareness. All these functions working together improve our brain's overall cognitive ability.
This one is my favourite, it improves self-confidence, self-esteem and more importantly self-expression. In my opinion, dancing is equal parts artistry and athleticism, giving us the opportunity to express our emotions. It gives us the freedom to express our emotions through art and channel our energy in a safe environment.
Positivity & happiness
Dancing increases one’s neural connectivity as it deeply integrates various brain functions like rational, musical, kinesthetic and emotional. This increased neural connectivity is proven to be of great benefit for our minds regardless of our age.
It is also a proven fact that dancing prompts an increased level of endorphins in comparison to other forms of exercise.
In short, dancing people are happy people.
Creating a healthy lifestyle is all about nurturing and stimulating our mind, body and soul. Luckily dance is an art form that has all these characteristics. So, if you are thinking twice about whether to get yourself or your child enrolled in that salsa or ballet class (or any form of dance), I would simply say to you, “try it” - you've got nothing to loose and everything to gain.
About the Author
Deepa Mani is an established Indian Classical and Contemporary dancer, Founder and Artistic Director of Chandralaya School of Dance in Melbourne. Deepa and her team take pleasure in imparting the beautiful art form(s) in kids and adults. Deepa is a passionate individual and a strong advocate in improving mental wellbeing through Dance in kids and adults.
You can get in touch with Deepa via socials (@chandralayadance) or via the Mums & Co Member Directory.
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